The North American (NorAm) Cup reconvened this week, kicking off the new year with a rapid pace at Burke Mountain in East Burke, Vt. The women’s field came roaring into the 20s with some great speed and aggressive lines, which made for two solid days of GS racing during which Adriana Jelinkova, of the Netherlands, and Mikaela Tommy, of Canada, consecutively outshined the field.
Jan. 2: Giant Slalom, Day 1
The first day at Burke Mountain was partly sunny with a solid surface that became East-Coast bulletproof throughout the day. The result was a challenging, inconsistent track with chunky bits of ice in places. Patricia Mangan, of the U.S., cited the challenging conditions, saying, “The first day of racing was bumpy, fast, and really hard snow.”
Andrea Komsic, skiing out of Croatia, was first out of the start gate to set the track for the Burke Mountain NorAms. Earlier this season at the NorAms in Nakiska, Komsic earned a third-place position in GS, further revealing that she is an athlete on the rise, especially in GS. She once again showed her power on the first day of racing at Burke, earning another bronze medal.
But Komsic was ultimately pushed into the bronze-medal position, first by Canadian Mikaela Tommy wearing bib No. 7. Earlier this season in Nakiska, Tommy earned a solid sixth-place finish; however, she came to Burke with enthusiasm, aggression, and focus, which gave her the extra push that got her onto the podium. For both runs on the first day, she skied with consistency, which resulted in a second-place overall standing.
After Tommy, Adriana Jelinkova came down wearing bib 15 and wound up dominating the field. This was an outstanding performance for the athlete out of the Netherlands. She was absolutely on fire both runs. On her first, Jelinkova gained a substantial lead of 1.26 seconds ahead of the field. But the cushion didn’t hold her back on the second run. She pushed even further ahead with a second run that was 1.04 seconds over the next-best time. For the day, Jelinkova stood out 2.75 seconds in front of Tommy and the rest of the field. She truly showed command over both GS courses that day at Burke.
Some other ladies revealed solid standings in GS on the first day. Patricia Mangan from the United States ended with a fourth-place finish, which was a strong result for her. Unfortunately, in Nakiska she did not finish the GS but came to Burke with grit and determination. Mangan said her goal was to “keep pushing as hard as possible and focus on being in the fall line and, if possible, generating speed.”
Another skier who had a strong day of racing was Marina Vilanova from Canada. She ended up in fifth place, which was her fifth top-5 finish in GS NorAms. The strongest “attack-from-the-back” racer and an athlete to look out for on the NorAm circuit is 16-year-old Canadian racer Britt Richardson. Richardson started from bib No. 61 and was able to make her way into the 12th-place position. For Richardson, this is her first season running the NorAm circuit, and she has already accomplished five top-20 finishes, three of them being in GS.
Jan. 3: Giant Slalom, Day 2
The second day of racing in Burke was another day of bulletproof snow, chunky ice, and inconsistency. But the girls were getting accustomed to the hill; they knew the challenging spots and the areas where they could find more speed. They were ready to slam some gates for round two.
Once again, Adriana Jelinkova struck gold. If the first day wasn’t an outstanding performance enough, she reiterated her spot on the top of the podium during the second day. With an overall time of 2:09.29, Jelinkova won both runs, which resulted in another gold medal. For both days, Jelinkova scored the penalty of 15 points, which kept her ranked top 25 for women in giant slalom.
Following closely behind her, Mikaela Tommy once again found herself second on the podium. However, on the second day her overall time was much closer to Jelinkova than the first day of racing. She ended up just 0.37 off of that gold-medal spot.
To round out the podium, Nina O’Brien came screaming into bronze-medal position with an overall time of 2:10.20, which was 0.91 seconds off Jelinkova. Unfortunately, O’Brien had a tough first day in Burke with a DNF on the first run. Nonetheless, she came back with boldness to show her strengths in GS on the second day of racing.
“I found the GS races pretty difficult, and struggled a bit to find my best skiing,” O’Brien said. “You really had to arc on the bumpy ice and Adriana showed us it was possible to ski clean.”
This season, O’Brien has been focusing on the World Cup and European Cup circuits, so this was her first NorAm race of the season and an exciting podium finish for her.
“I’m heading back to Europe on Monday with the team,” O’Brien added. “I’ll be doing a mix of NorAms and World Cups for the rest of the season, still focusing on slalom and GS.”
Keely Cashman and Andrea Komsic rounded out the top-five athletes for the second day of giant-slalom racing in Burke. To her disappointment, Komsic was unable to regain a podium spot for the second day of racing. Keely Cashman had a tough time finishing her second run on the first day but came back with a vengeance and earned a solid fourth-place finish.
Jan. 4: Slalom Day
The women pushed through to a third day of racing at Burke Mountain with a close slalom race. Nina O’Brien pulled through for the nail-biting win against the field. Adriana Jelinkova was awarded another podium spot, and Resi Stiegler rounded out the top-three.
The snow reports remained the same from coaches and athletes in the slalom, bullet-proof, icy conditions, with some inconsistencies. Thereby, the ladies really needed to arc their skis hard with each and every turn. Patricia Mangan was first to push out of the start gate wearing bib No. 1. She was able to attack through the hard conditions to earn a spot in the top-10, but she said, “The slaloms were pretty tough for me.”
Resi Stiegler had a booming first run that pulled her ahead of the field by 0.72 seconds. On the second run, she gave her all to reiterate the same tactics in order to take home the gold. In spite of her grit to pull through after a stunning first run, she lamentably got pushed into the third-place position. This season, Stiegler ran the slaloms at both Copper Mountain and Nakiska and earned top-10 finishes in each overall standing. Thereby, this was her first podium of the season, and she hopes to gain momentum from this finish to take to her next slalom races.
Having an absolutely fantastic two days in the GS, Adriana Jelinkova was able to pull through for another podium finish in the slalom. The Dutch racer was on fire for the Burke series, and as O’Brien said, “Adriana showed us it was possible to ski clean.”
It was a tight race for the gold between Jelinkova and O’Brien. Overall, Jelinkova came in only .10 seconds behind O’brien in the overall standings. On the second run Jelinkova actually beat O’Brien’s time, but it wasn’t enough to stand on top of the podium.
Overall, Nina O’Brien laid down two consistently fast runs that earned her the gold medal in an exhilarating race for the women’s field.
With excitement, she remarked, “I’m happy to have put down two solid runs and a good result. … I was really trying to ski relaxed and arc into the rut.” All around, this was an excellent takeaway for O’Brien before she heads off to race European Cup on Monday.
Across the board, it was an amazing three days of racing for the female NorAm circuit. The women’s North American Cup will resume up in Canada at Georgian Peaks on Feb. 4. For now, stay tuned for the Men’s NorAm series happening these next few days at Burke and Stowe.