Between April 2-6, junior skiers, college athletes, Koreans, Kiwis, Canadians, and other racers from a wide variety of backgrounds took advantage of some pretty stellar spring speed racing conditions in Aspen, Colo.
The speed series started off with three days of downhill. Aspen Valley Ski Club (AVSC) prepped the hill to perfection with a little help from cold temperatures at night and pulled off one training day and two two-run downhill races.
In the first women’s race, Isabella Wright of Aspen Valley Ski Club came out on top with Georgia Willinger from New Zealand in second and Sarah Schleper of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) in third.
“It was my first time back on downhill skis in two months, so I definitely just had an open mind and just wanted to focus on good, balanced skiing,” recounted Wright.
On the second day of downhill, Schleper walked away with the win. Wright was close behind in second, and Abigail Murer of SSCV finished third.
“Its really hard to do two runs of downhill; it’s a scary event and the ruts got pretty big,” explained Schleper. “I tried my best to drive through them and get to the front of the ski… Bella had gotten me by a few tenths first run, so I gave the last run my all and it was super fun to walk away with a downhill win.”
Canadian speed specialist and World Cup competitor Dustin Cook made an appreciated appearance for the speed events, winning both men’s downhill races by over a second. Kipling Weisel of the U.S. Ski Team finished second on both days of racing, and Alexander Koell of Sweden placed third each day as well.
“Coming back from injury I didn’t ski much downhill this past season, so I came to Aspen looking for some points,” Cook said. “Mission accomplished in that regard, and those results will help my start numbers next year. It’s always fun to race in Aspen, and I’m really hoping we can come back for World Cup races soon.”
After a few days of high speed downhill racing, racers took advantage of the fresh course and shorter skis on April 6 for two super-G races.
In the first women’s super-G race, Wright came down 0.22 ahead of Schleper, followed by SSCV athlete Rachel Desrocher in third.
In the men’s race, Koell raced his way into first place, followed by U.S. Ski Team athletes Tanner Farrow in second and Drew Duffy in third.
“I injured myself at St. Moritz and couldn’t ski for six weeks,” Koell explains. “l decided to come here and it was a super nice day, the conditions were amazing. It was still dark over the whole last pitch this morning, so you had to know where you were going.”
Temperatures warmed up to 50 degrees for the second super-G race of the day, putting later bibs at a disadvantage as the snow softened up.
U.S. Ski Team athlete Galena Wardle finished on top by an impressive 1.56 second margin after crashing into the fence in the first race.
“It did play with my head a little,” admitted Wardle. “I knew I wanted to finish, but also knew I wanted to ski as fast as I can.”
She was followed by Katie Hensien of Rowmark Ski Academy in second and Team Summit athlete Kayo Denda in third.
Adam Barwood of New Zealand finished on top for the men’s second race, followed by his Kiwi teammate Willis Feasey in second and Weisel in third. After going out of the course in the first race, Barwood tried to “let it go and bring a bit more shape coming onto the bottom,” for his second race.
“Overall I had a pretty clean run,” Barwood continued. “This is a career best result in any event for me – so maybe I’ll be doing a bit more super-G next season!”
Complete results are available here.