Challenging Vermont conditions allow podium shake-ups in NorAm slalom races
NorAm racing continued on Jan. 4-5 in Vermont with slalom races for both genders and a make-up giant slalom for the men after a canceled race earlier in the series.
Despite an hour and a half delay early on Wednesday morning, the men were able to run both slalom races in one day — an effort that would allow them to run a GS on Thursday. In the first race, NorAm slalom leader and CU Boulder athlete David Ketterer overtook Hig Roberts in the second run to win with a combined time of 1:55:48. He bested Roberts by 0.21 seconds. University of Vermont’s William St. Germain came in third, 1.22 seconds out.
Freezing rain hit Stowe early that morning and the conditions weren’t ideal. Halfway into the first race only 53 of 103 racers found themselves in the finish corral. However, some were able to take advantage of the day. That’s exactly what Jett Seymour did. He said he approached the rainy day like most in his position would.
“Here we go, it’s going to be bumpy back here where I’m running,” he thought to himself. Seymour started the day wearing bib 59, but he would come away with his first NorAm win and jump to fourth in the slalom standings.
Starting at the back of the pack in the first race, Seymour was able to watch half of the field fail to finish the first course. He also knew that there was a unique opportunity in the situation. He skied into 13th the first run and he would only improve from there. He went on to win the second run by 0.28 seconds, and he finished in fourth place overall.
After such an incredible move, his name was heard throughout the Mount Mansfield Ski Club. Then, everyone was informed that there would be a second race, and it was time to refocus.
The key for Seymour in the second race was that he had now amassed enough NorAm points to break into the top seed, and he wore bib 12 for the second race. Without having to deal with the rough course conditions that come with running late, he came in third in the first run. When he crossed the finish line for the fourth time that day, he only had to wait for two racers. Roberts and Ketterer both failed to finish and Seymour was able celebrate his near-fairytale day.
Garret Driller, from Montana State University, came in second, 0.66 seconds behind Seymour, and Sandy Vietze from the University of Vermont skied onto his first podium of the year in third, 1.59 seconds behind.
“I’m kind of in disbelief. I did not expect that,” Seymour said of his achievement.
Seymour races out of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and prior to Wednesday, he had finished some races and was relatively happy with the results. He came to Stowe looking to simply add a few more NorAm points to his total. He certainly walked away with more.
“I knew I had it in me, so I put down four clean runs today,” he said.
The excitement didn’t end there. Just a few racers after Seymour finished before heavy winds, hail and lighting rushed through Stowe and forced the race to end early with some coaches and athletes stuck on the lift as it had lost power in the storm.
Ketterer still holds the top spot in the NorAm slalom standings, followed by Roberts and Canadian Phil Brown. Seymour is in fourth, 104 points behind.
The frenzy of slalom races opened up Thursday for a giant slalom, and Roberts took advantage. He won the second NorAm of his career and his first in GS. Roberts was followed by Nick Krause and Erik Arvidsson of the U.S. Ski Team, ending up 0.45 and 1.09 seconds back, respectively. It was Arvidsson’s first ever NorAm podium in a tech event.
Canadian Phil Brown was able to accumulate enough points earlier in the week to hold onto the lead in the giant slalom standings despite missing the make-up event. Brown has 280 points, followed closely by Krause with 270 points and then Roberts with 214 points.
The women’s event was less tumultuous. The track was firm on Wednesday and after a cold night, the track was icy enough to take out almost 80 percent of skiers.
On Wednesday, UVM’s Paula Moltzan won the fifth NorAm slalom of her career, three of which have been at Burke. Canadian Ali Nullmeyer came in second, 0.44 seconds back, followed by the U.S. Ski Team’s Patricia Mangan, 1.02 seconds behind the pace. It was the first NorAm slalom podium of Mangan’s career.
Another war of attrition took place in the women’s second slalom held on Thursday. The track was as icy and slick as anyone could hope to find, but not everyone was prepared. Ninety-nine women took on the conditions, but after just one run only 46 of them remained. They even started the first run over again with a minor edit after the first two racers skied out at the same gate.
After the first run, Nina O’Brien, who went to Burke Mountain Academy, was in first followed by Nullmeyer and Julia Ford of Redneck Racing. These women would end the day on the podium, but Nullmeyer stood atop of it. Nullmeyer won the second run by a staggering 1.12 seconds, and she forced O’Brien to settle for second, 1.03 behind overall. Ford stayed in third, 2.86 seconds behind the leader.
Nullmeyer, who came into the slaloms with a win and a fourth place finish in giant slalom, felt one day away from the podium was too many.
“The first GS race I came in fourth, I had a good first run and I had an OK second run. After my second run, I think I just got a little mad at myself, and I pushed it harder for the next three days after,” she said.
The three leaders came away on top, but mother nature was not done with the rest of the field. The second run the field cut in half again, and only 22 women would get the best of the hill.
Half of this season’s NorAm slalom races have been completed and Nullmeyer sits in a comfortable lead with 340 points, while Nina O’Brien sits in second with 215 points. Erin Mielzynski, although she has returned to the World Cup circuit, still sits in third with 200 points.