Domestic roundup: Hardy conquers Fisk, Fiala returns to Beaver Creek and moreEAST
The University of Vermont’s Greg Hardy mastered challenging courses and a deep field en route to victory at the 69th annual Fisk Trophy slalom at Suicide Six, Vermont, on Jan. 29.
The Fisk Trophy slalom, part of this year’s TD Banknorth Eastern Cup Series, is the oldest ongoing alpine ski race in North America. The race began in 1937, when Woodstock, Vermont’s Fisk family gathered with friends for a convivial day of alpine competition at The Gully, now the backside of Suicide Six. Before long, the family had commissioned a Boston silversmith to make a commemorative award, and each year, ski racing enthusiasts from around New England arrived to fight for the honor of having their names inscribed on what is currently called the Fisk Trophy.
The list of former winners is impressive and diverse; it essentially reads like an encyclopedia of ski racing’s past and present in the Northeastern United States. To name just a few, prior winners include 2006 Torino Olympic Team members Chip Knight and Jimmy Cochran, Killington Mountain School headmaster Tao Smith and U.S. Ski Teamers from decades past, like Tiger Shaw and John Higgins.
This year’s winner is no stranger to distinguished company, though. Hardy, a college sophomore, left the U.S. Ski Team midway through last season and matriculated at UVM, where he won the 2005 NCAA giant slalom title on his home turf at Stowe.
Hardy has found his form again this season; the Jan. 29 victory was his third FIS win in as many days. Hardy won both the slalom and GS at the St. Lawrence University Carnival on Jan. 27 and 28, scooted from Lake Placid, New York, to Woodstock, Vermont, and fended-off a hungry crowd, which included Cochran, to capture his first Fisk Trophy.
Almost as impressive was Williams College’s Charles Christianson, who won the afternoon run at Suicide on his way to second place, and who also finished just behind Hardy on both days at the SLU Carnival.
Though Christianson and Hardy looked stellar, North America’s oldest race swallowed up much of the rest of the field, and only 47 racers remained standing at the end of the day. The race is basically a sprint, but the upper half of the Suicide track features an unrelenting 20- to 25-gate pitch, and this section was responsible for much of the field’s attrition.
‘It was a deep field, and the upper section was toughâ€¦ you had to be on â€˜em’ said Tim Maguire, the USSA Eastern regional director. ‘There were guys with 60 points starting 90.’
Local athlete Stefan Hughes was the fastest junior and rounded out the top three. Hughes is currently a member of the U.S. development team and just returned from a tour of duty on the European FIS circuit.
Next year will be the 70th annual running of the Fisk Trophy race.
Click here for complete results of the Fisk Trophy slalom on January 29.
(Many thanks to Lenny Britton of Britton’s Lumber in Taftsville, Vermont, and to Meredith Scott of the Vermont Ski Museum in Stowe, Vermont, for their assistance with the history mentioned above.)
MORE EAST ACTION
The Eastern Region’s best J3s congregated at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, from Jan. 28 to 31. Boys and girls each raced slalom, GS and super G in the four-day series.
Green Mountain Valley School’s Devin Delaney dominated the girls’ races, winning the Jan. 31 super G by nearly two seconds and the Jan. 29 GS by nearly two and a half.
Maine’s Ben Morse won the boys’ slalom on Jan. 28, and Taylor Wunsch, Delaney’s GMVS teammate, won the boys’ GS and super G on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31.
For Jan. 28 girls’ slalom results at the J3 Eastern Region Series, please click here
For Jan. 28 boys’ slalom results at the J3 Eastern Region Series, please click here
For Jan. 29 girls’ giant slalom results at the J3 Eastern Region Series, please click here
For Jan. 29 boys’ giant slalom results at the J3 Eastern Region Series, please click here
For Jan. 31 girls’ super G results at the J3 Eastern Region Series, please click here
For Jan. 31 boys’ super G results at the J3 Eastern Region Series, please click here
ROCKY/CENTRAL AND WEST
Beaver Creek, Colorado, hosted Rocky Mountain Trophy Series speed races beginning Jan. 24. The races were run in conjunction with the Western region, which supported the series with nearly sixty athletes of both sexes.
The week originally consisted of two super G’s and two downhills; but organizers were forced to cancel one of the downhill races because of fresh snowfall.
Even with the loss of a start, the week was not short on excitement, as racers charged down courses on Beaver Creek’s Centennial trail, and an amalgam of old and new faces posted stellar results.
Real estate broker Jakub Fiala skied to first- and third-place finishes in the super G’s on Jan. 24 and 25, but had to skip the Jan. 28 downhill because he needed to attend to responsibilities in his Summit County, Colorado, office. Fiala, a former World Cup downhill and super G specialist on the U.S. Ski Team, generously supported the RMTS races by scraping off the rust and strapping on the long boards – he also showed the West’s youngsters that the ol’ boys can still have fun and go fast.
Second to Fiala in the Jan. 24 super G, Park City, Utah’s Sam Sweetser won both the Jan. 25 super G and the Jan. 28 downhill. In both of his victories, Sweetser barely edged out the week’s top junior finisher Greg Bartels.
Bartels, of the Diamond Peak Ski Team in the Tahoe area, was just four hundredths of a second behind Sweetser in the Jan. 25 super G, and was denied a share of the victory by a mere hundredth of a second in the downhill on Jan. 28. Bartels also collected a third-place finish in the super G on Jan. 24.
The ladies’ Jan. 24 and 25 super G’s were dominated by juniors. Ski Club Vail’s Alyssa Cartmill, a J1, won by more than a half second on Jan. 24, and she followed that up with a second-place finish the following day.
J2 skiers Alice McKennis and Jennifer Vanwagner were among the field’s best in all three races. McKennis, of the Aspen Valley Ski Team, finished second in the first super G and sixth in the second; while Rowmark Academy’s Vanwagner, placing seventh the previous day, raced to victory on Jan. 25. Both girls finished in the top 10 of the lone downhill.
Chirine Njeim won the women’s downhill on Jan. 28 after racing to two top-five finishes in the super G’s. Njeim, who trains out of Park City, Utah, has posted top-15 NorAm results in giant slalom, super G and downhill this season and she will represent Lebanon at the Torino Olympic Games later this month.
Kate Bragg, Njeim’s Park City teammate, raced to third place in the Jan. 28 downhill; Steamboat’s Ann West finished second.
Click here for complete results from the Beaver Creek RMTS super G’s and downhill.
MORE ROCKY/CENTRAL ACTION
At the J3 JO Qualifiers in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Hunter Schleper and Delainey Ackerman continued to show that they’re tough to beat. Both from Vail, Colorado, Schleper and Ackerman posted cons
ecutive super G victories on Jan. 28 and 29.
For the boys’ Jan. 28 super G, click here.
For the girls’ Jan. 28 super G, click here.
For the boys’ Jan. 29 super G, click here.
For the girls’ Jan. 29 super G, click here.
Boyne Mountain, Michigan, hosted four Central Region races on Jan. 28.