Georgian Peaks, Canada is hosting a fast field of ladies for another tenacious NorAm series. This NorAm series kicked off with two-days of giant-slalom. AJ Hurt of the Alpine B, U.S. Ski Team laid down solid arcs, reigning in the gold medal the first day. On the second day of racing, Alex Tilley who skis for Team Evolution Racing and GB SnowSport concluded the GS in the first-place position.
To ignite the first day of racing, AJ Hurt (USA) came down sporting bib-19 arcing the ski and bashing the gates. After tough bone bruising and her crash in Lake Louise she made a shining come back with a tight lead, 0.18 over Alex Tilley (GBR).
“This season has been tough with a bone bruise taking me out of most of the season up until now, so it feels good to put down two good runs in the first NorAm since the crash In Lake Louise.” AJ Hurt (USA) explained.
As a consensus, the conditions were awesome with an icy and hard surface, so the athletes were able to punch the course and focus on their skiing. Hurt (USA) fully utilized this opportunity to get back into the swing of things and attack the giant slalom.
Hurt (USA) reflected, “I was mostly just focused on getting back to the feeling of my skiing I had before the crash.”
Alex Tilley (GBR), wearing bib-21 buckled in and went full-force at the “different elements” of the Georgian Peak hill. This was Alex Tilley’s (GBR) first NorAm series this season as she has been predominantly racing the World Cup Circuit.
She excitedly iterated, “I’ve been really enjoying being back in North America and I have always enjoyed the atmosphere of the NorAm races, so it has been fun. My skiing hasn’t been quite what I wanted for the past month or so, but we made some changes lately, so it’s been great to put that in a race situation and see that the changes have been beneficial.”
To round out the podium, Adriana Jelinkova of the Netherlands, who was the winner of the prior NorAm giant-slaloms at Burke Mountain pushed out of the start gunning for that top spot. She came across the finish line only 0.62 off of Hurt’s (USA) winning time. Jelinkova (NED) continues to show this field that she can arc through hard surfaces effectively, gaining speed with each turn.
After the Burke Races, Nina O’Brien (USA; Dartmouth) reflected on Adriana Jelinkova’s (NED) skiing, “You really had to fight to arc on the ice, and Adriana showed us it was possible to ski clean.”
Jelinkova’s (NED) clean skiing through the hard, icy snow earned her another spot on the NorAm podium. This marked her nineteenth NorAm podium finish throughout her career.
After seeing the various aspects of the hill, the ladies were ready to take a new focus onto the second day of giant-slalom racing.
Paula Moltzan of the U.S. Alpine B Team and University of Vermont Ski Team stated, “Going into the second day I will be working on having a faster start, pushing and skating until the eighth gate. I also want to go more direct at the gates on the pitch.”
Overnight Georgian Peaks received colder temperatures, which firmed up the snow, making the conditions stellar for the second day of giant slalom. Since the athletes already ran the hill twice and the day brought pristine conditions, nobody was holding back. Alex Tilley (GBR) put together another day of racing that gave her the gold medal she was craving. Tilley (GBR) ended the day with a combined time of 1:38.11.
“The flat hill of the first few gates were a really interesting test for me, but I definitely think I worked some things out there after the first day. Generally, just finding the right intensity for the run is something I did a bit better on the second day.” Tilley (GBR) assessed.
It was a nail-biting race as Nina O’Brien of the U.S. Alpine B Team and the Dartmouth Ski Team came down just 0.02 behind Tilley’s (GBR) lead. Unfortunately, O’Brien (USA; Dartmouth) did not finish her run on the first day of GS. Nonetheless, she came back with a push for the finish line.
“I think my attitude was very in today’s race. I was really trying to attack and ski a straighter line. I am glad it paid off.” O’Brien (USA; Dartmouth) stated after her silver medal finish.
To conclude the podium, Paula Moltzan (USA; Vermont) came ripping down wearing bib-23, ending 0.87 off of Tilley’s (GBR) winning time. She had a strong finish the first day, coming across the finish line in the eleventh position. Nonetheless, Moltzan (USA; Vermont) wanted more out of her second GS day and she wanted to find more speed on those upper flats. She ended up executing the goal of finding more speed through the top-eight gates and executing a more direct line, which put her in the bronze medal position.
The week before Moltzan (USA; Vermont) won the University Carnival. She explained, “Racing at the Carnival was really fun! It was fun to see friends and get my first win of the season. It definitely helped build some confidence going into this series.”
All three podium athletes, Moltzan (USA; Vermont), O’Brien (USA; Dartmouth), and Tilley (GBR) came to this series almost directly from a line of World Cup races. There were a plethora of perspectives these females brought from the World Cup Circuit to the start gate of this NorAm series.
“There’s so much to be learned from the World Cup Tour and I’m definitely still learning, but I think something it has taught me is that I really have to do things my way, focus on myself and know what works for me, not trying to fall into the stereotypes or the actions of pleasing people.” Tilley (GBR) expressed.
O’Brien (USA; Dartmouth) stated, “My last races in Europe went pretty well. I still feel like I have a lot to learn in the World Cup Circuit, but I’m trying to bring my best skiing out on race day. I’m working on having that same approach during the NorAms. Trying to attack and stay forward.”
The female athletes will be taking on the slalom hill over the next two days, February 6th and 7th.
Tilley (GBR) told Ski Racing Media, “I’m excited to get the short skis on again! I think I can take a good amount of confidence from these past few days and really just allow myself to enjoy the SL races. It will be a fun challenge with some great racers here.”
In Loving Memory
After the races concluded today, a very special “Run for Jeff Shiffrin” took place. All of the female athletes joined in ceremony together to ski down the course with their flags waving. It showed the vast amount of support in the ski racing community and the loving support for Jeff Shiffrin’s family in this very difficult time.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day
The last two days were very fitting days for the women’s NorAm series as it fell onto ‘The National Girls and Women in Sports Day.’ This is a day that takes place annually during the first week of February. It is a day to recognize the achievements of female athletes as well as acknowledge the influence that women have on sports today. Women of Sports Foundation celebrates the importance of equal opportunity for all girls and women who partake in sports.