The 2019 NorAm season continued this week with men’s and women’s slalom and giant slalom races in the United States’ Western Region. The men and women were split up for the series as men’s races were held in Sun Valley, Idaho, and the women were in Jackson, Wyoming, for their competitions. After four days of intense racing and only one tech series left on the schedule for both genders, the races for coveted World Cup spots awarded to the top two continental finishers in each discipline’s standings are starting to heat up.
Men’s Slalom and Giant Slalom — Sun Valley, Idaho
On the men’s side, slalom action in Sun Valley got underway on Tuesday, February 5, with U.S. Ski Teamer, Luke Winters, taking his first NorAm win of the season and a valuable 6.12 FIS-point result. Winters finished with a two-run time of 1:52.51 seconds, good enough to finish 0.16 seconds ahead of runner-up, Simon Fournier of the Canadian National Team. NCAA athlete and Middlebury College student, Erik Arvidsson, rounded out the podium in third place, 0.87 seconds off of Winters’ pace. U.S. Ski Team member River Radamus was the fastest junior in fourth place overall, 0.98 seconds back.
Day two of slalom saw a shakeup in the top of the standings with Austrian and University of Denver student, Tobias Kogler, taking the top step of the podium with a combined time of 1:48.22 seconds. Second place went to Team America’s Alex Leever, finishing a scant 0.04 seconds back for his first career NorAm podium. First-run leader, Redneck Racing’s Sandy Vietze, slid back to ultimately finish in third place, 0.34 seconds off the pace. Top junior honors went to the U.S. Ski Team’s Benjamin Ritchie in fourth place overall, 0.57 seconds back.
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Holy $#*! !!!!! What an amazing day, two hard fought runs ending up in my first NorAm podium and by far my PB. Thanks to everyone for making this day happen, it’s been a long time coming! • #slowlybutsurely #washedup #7.69 • @teamamerica_alpine @sync_performance @fischerski @lekiusa @blizeyewear
Thursday’s GS saw the University of Vermont’s Max Roeisland, a Norwegian native, take his career-first NorAm victory with a combined time of 2:09.17 seconds. Roeisland finished ahead of a pair of U.S. Ski Team athletes in Radamus and Nicholas Krause, who finished 0.63 and 1.15 seconds back in second and third place, respectively. Radamus was also the fastest junior.
The men’s series in Sun Valley wrapped up on Friday with the final day of GS and Radamus earning the win with a two-run time of 2:15.73 seconds. Winters managed to climb the GS podium as well, finishing in second place, 0.60 seconds back, and Norway’s Tobias Windingstad rounded out the podium in third, 1.11 seconds off of Radamus’ winning pace.
At the conclusion of the series, Fournier holds the lead in the men’s overall NorAm standings with 640 points and sits 51 points ahead of American independent racer, Samuel Dupratt. Fournier also has a commanding lead in the slalom standings with 420 points, 125 points ahead of Ritchie in the standings. Krause currently has the lead in the GS standings, also with 420 points, and sits 144 points clear of Radamus in second place.
The men’s NorAm circuit now heads to Burke Mountain, Vermont, for slalom and GS racing March 12-15. The Burke races will be the final tech races of the 2019 NorAm season.
Women’s Slalom and Giant Slalom – Snow King Mountain Resort (Jackson, Wyoming)
The women’s series kicked off with a cancellation of the slalom on Tuesday, February 5th due to excessive snow in Jackson Hole. So on Wednesday, February 6th, the women doubled up with two separate slalom races to make up for lost time.
Canadian Amelia Smart pulled out the win in both sets of slalom, besting American Nina O’Brien by 0.19 seconds in the first race, and again by 0.16 seconds in the following slalom. Keely Cashman found her way onto the podium in the first slalom of the day, 0.98 back from Smart. The Netherland’s Adriana Jelinkova replaced Cashman in the second slalom, trailing Smart by 1.23 seconds.
Smart was unable to keep her podium momentum going into the giant slalom on Thursday and Friday but continued to finish in the top 10. She took 7th in Thursday’s giant slalom and 6th in Friday’s giant slalom.
Thursday’s giant slalom saw a win from Cashman, a second-place finish from Nina O’Brien, and a third-place finish from Norwegian Erin Linnea Engeset. Friday’s giant slalom saw a win from the Netherland’s Jelinkova, followe by O’Brien and Cashman.
Cashman struggled in the Candian series in early December, unable to crack the top five in three of the four races. She finished third in the slalom in Panorama on December 16th. In Jackson, Cashman excelled, earning a podium in each event except for the second slalom on February 6th, when she finished fifth. The 19-year-old’s giant slalom win on Thursday was the first NorAm win of her career, followed by a third place podium in the giant slalom on February 8th. Cashman’s consistency throughout the Western NorAm’s also earned her the honors of being the top junior finisher of the overall series.
O’Brien also had a solid week in Jackson prior to traveling to Are, Sweden to compete in the first World Championships of her career. Although O’Brien was unable to find the top of the podium as much as she had in the first NorAm series of the season, she finished second consistently in both slalom races and both giant slalom races.
American Resi Stiegler returned to the NorAm circuit after an injury earlier in the season forced her to withdraw from the World Cup. Stiegler was able to break into 10th and ninth place during the slalom series, but unable to find the top ten in the giant slalom.
After Friday’s giant slalom, O’Brien leads the NorAm overall standings, holding 1,146 total points. O’Brien also leads in the slalom, giant slalom, and super-G standings. American AJ Hurt trails her teammate in the overall by 139 points. The top three is rounded off fittingly by Tricia Mangan, sitting in third with a total of 765 points.
The next technical NorAm series for the ladies take place from March 12th-15th at Stowe Mountain Resort and Spruce Peake in Vermont.