The NorAm series comes to a strong conclusion with the men and women both taking on the parallel slalom event (PSL). Both fields started the day with a qualifier slalom race and then competed head-to-head against their competitors for four rounds, ending in a heated finale. Roni Remme of the Canadian Alpine Team and the University of Utah won the overall PSL title for the women’s field. For the men, Jeffrey Read of the Canadian Alpine Team came out on top for the overall PSL.
For the PSL, the men remained in Mont Edouard to finish off the week of races, while the women moved to another mountain, Craigleth Ski Club. In the fairly new event of parallel slalom, GS panels are used instead of slalom gates, which creates a different tempo for the athletes and an entirely new type of racing.
“I like the parallel a lot. It’s a totally different approach, and it’s high intensity and super-fast pace,” said Roni Remme (CAN, Utah).
George Steffey of U.S. Alpine C Team concurred, saying, “I love the head-to-head aspect because it really heightens the competitiveness of the race. Everything is simplified into a win or lose situation where you either beat the guy next to you or your day is over.”
Men’s PSL, Feb. 7
The enthusiasm was high as the men approached the end of the Mont Edouard NorAm series. They first took on the slalom qualifying race and then moved into the bracket dual racing event. Jeffrey Read (CAN) fought hard to come out on top of the field by attacking the panels for four rounds, against four different competitors and the final round against George Steffey (USA). The visibility was subpar as the snow was coming down hard all day, but the surface held up well.
“It was dumping snow, but thanks to the hard work of the coaches and the volunteers we were able to race on the same hard surface that we’ve had all series,” Steffey (USA) iterated.
The qualifying race kicked off the day with a win from U.S. Alpine B Ski Team athlete, Benjamin Ritchie with a time of 52.37. Simon Fournier of the Canadian Alpine Team and Jett Seymour, skiing for the University of Denver raced across the finish line in a tie of 52.95, 0.58 off of Ritchie’s lead. Although Read did not make it into the top-ten of the qualifying race he came into the parallels with aggressive skiing to win the duals.
In the first round of racing, twenty-two-year-old Read raced against eighteen-year-old, Jeremy Laniel. Jeremy Laniel skis for Les Sommets, Quebec Academy and was in for a tough race against the National Canadian skier. The young athlete, with 46.67 slalom points, put up a good fight from panel-to-panel against Read, a 16.72 slalom skier. Unfortunately, the fight was not enough for Laniel, the underdog. Read continued to race against, Canadian teammate Asher Jordan, which was a well-matched up race. Read managed to pull ahead of Asher (CAN) and come across the finish line first, which continued him onto the next round. In the third round, Read stood in the start gate next to Louis Muhlen-Schulte from Australia, which was another tight race. Nevertheless, Read kept up his stamina and continued to race the fourth round against Jamie Casselman of the Alberta Alpine Team. With a strong, straight line, Read was able to push Casselman out of his chances to compete in the final round.
Read told Ski Racing Media, “The PSL was a lot of fun. I’d say out of any discipline it’s actually my best just because I grew up doing so much of it. This was the first year I haven’t trained any of it, so I was really happy to see I’ve still got the speed.”
The final round came down to Read and George Steffey (USA). Steffey had also put in a tough fight against four other competitors, including Canadian Alpine Team racer, Declan McCormack and Dartmouth Ski Team Member, Jimmy Krupka. Both men, Read and Steffey persevered to the end where they clicked in with the intent to take home that gold medal. In this series, Steffey had a consistent presence on the top-five leader board, while Read had a tougher time getting into the top-five. However, both men have shown advanced success this season on the NorAm circuit. Read came through that final finish line barely in front of Steffey, awarding Read the gold medal for the PSL event.
“I really like the intensity of the PSL. I find that when I have someone next to me it really makes me push hard and if I can see they are ahead of me I’m pushing as hard as I possibly can.” Read emphasized.
Steffey is excited to move this NorAm series into the speed portion of racing at Whiteface Mountain. Steffey will be competing in the GS, super-g, and alpine combined. After this speed week, he will take his focus to the New Jersey PSL race.
Read, just touched down in Europe where he will be doing the World Cup makeup race in Saalbach, Austria. But, after his success at this PSL NorAm race Read explained, “I am a little bummed I’m not going to be able to do the next PSL in New Jersey, but I am trying to make the jump to the World Cup!”
Women’s PSL, Feb. 8
The women’s eagerness to win at the end of this NorAm series shined through in the PSL races. The competitive spirit of these female athletes was truly brought out as they went nip and tuck against one another. Just as the men did, the women skied a qualifier race and then went into four rounds of duals and the final parallel slalom. Roni Remme skiing for the Canadian Alpine Team and the University of Utah came off of two solid days of slalom skiing with a second and first-place finish and wanted to end the NorAm series with the PSL gold. She contended with four athletes to make it to the final round where she took on Netherlands athlete, Adriana Jelinkova and won the entire bracket.
For the qualifying round, Erin Mielzynski of the Canadian Alpine Team tightly won the qualifiers by just 0.01, with a time of 47.35. University of Denver athlete, Storm Klomhaus raced into second-place position and U.S. Ski Team athlete Resi Stiegler rounded out the podium just 0.05 behind Mielzynski’s winning time. Neither, Remme or Jelinkova skied into the top-five during the qualifying round, but they were both ready to turn up the heat for the parallel slaloms.
“I think the parallel slaloms work well with my personality, but only if I’m also able to keep my composure. It’s easy to get caught up in what is going on around you, and those distractions don’t help me ski fast. I need to be able to bring my focus back to the “job” when it’s time to get going again.” Remme (CAN; Utah) concluded after the PSL.
In the first round, Remme took on young Canadian athlete, seventeen-year-old Sarah Brown. Sarah Brown is a 41.07 slalom skier and in 2019 she earned herself a fourth-place finish in the parallel slalom NorAm series at the Alpine Ski Club. She raced a good race against Remme, a 21.60 SL point World Cup athlete. Nevertheless, Remme proceeded onto the next round of races. Remme then went on to defeat Keely Cashman, a U.S. Ski Team athlete. Then, Remme went on to race her teammate, Amelia Smart who skis for the Canadian Alpine Team and the University of Denver. Remme was able to come across the finish line first against Smart. During the last round, she went head-to-head with Zoe Zimmerman who skis for the U.S. Ski Team. She pushed across the finish line first, putting her into the final round of the bracket against Adriana Jelinkova (NED).
Jelinkova also raced the four rounds, overthrowing all four competitors, which included athletes such as, Lila Lapanja of an Independent U.S. Team and Alex Tilley of GBR SnowSport. After a tougher NorAm series for Jelinkova, she was excited about her wins in the parallel slalom.
Jelinkova explained, “In the GS I showed some good skiing, especially in the bottom section, and on the second day, unfortunately, I risked a bit too much and went out. The slaloms were a fight for me as the flat hill for the slaloms were not in my favor, but all in all, every run went better, and I am satisfied with my runs.” She further added with excitement, “I love parallel slaloms, I feel like they are not done enough. It’s most certainly a different discipline than a normal slalom- and I enjoy doing both.”
During the final round, the two female athletes got pumped to send it one more time down the dueling hill. Jelinkova and Remme smashed the panels from beginning to end. It was a tight race, but Remme was able to accelerate ahead and come across the finish line in front of Jelinkova.
Remme told Ski Racing Media, “I try not to change my focus too much between regular SL and parallel. I try to keep the focus on my skiing and on improving each run and skiing the best I can. It’s not always easy or possible, but that’s my plan, to keep the focus on the skiing, not the competitor or the results.”
Remme heads back on to the World Cup tour this next week, starting back up in Kranjska Gora, SLO, with slalom. Although Adriana’s back injury is hurting her, she is pumped to head into some NorAm speed racing this next week at Whiteface Mountain.
Adriana sets her goals, “I just want to enjoy the speed events, if my back lets me, have fun and go fast of course! In the World Cups, I want to be able to make some good turns that I showed here at this NorAm series. If I do that, I’ll be happy because I know those can be fast.”
The NorAm series will pick back up February 10, 2020, with the women’s alpine combined as well as the women and men’s super-g races. Stay tuned as we pick up the speed at Whiteface Mountain.