The NorAm circuit has been on a break for the past month, but the corps of racers traveled to Colorado to start back up again with the men racing giant slalom at Copper and the women racing slalom at Vail on Feb. 1-2.
It did not take long for Canadian Ali Nullmeyer to get back to work. Nullmeyer officially took the NorAm slalom title with consecutive wins in Vail, Colo. and she is now guaranteed starts in all of the World Cup slalom races next season. She was also named to Canada’s 2017 World Championship team.
Nullmeyer won the first race with a combined time of 1:52.71. U.S. Ski Team athlete Lila Lapanja finished second 1.37 seconds behind the slalom champion and Laurence St. Germain from the University of Vermont finished third, 1.74 seconds back.
Nullmeyer said she has been skiing progressively better throughout the season, and that shows in her NorAm results. There has been six slalom races thus far in the the season, in the first three, she finished second and she has won each since then.
“I think I have also gained confidence too, which is huge,” she said of her season so far. “Just to have that mentally, just to believe in yourself,”
In the second race, Nullmeyer won with a time of 1:50.70. Paula Moltzan from the University of Vermont finished in second, 1.18 seconds back and again in third was Moltzan’s teammate St. Germain, 2.04 seconds back.
Nullmeyer will head to St. Moritz, Switzerland to compete in the Alpine World Championships between Feb. 6-19.
“I didn’t really know that they were thinking about sending me to World Champs, so that was a cool surprise,” Nullmeyer said while adding that she is happy to claim the top slalom spot to ensure the World Cup slot for next season.
Nullmeyer said that it’s been something that she has been working toward.
“It’s just really awesome to have everything pay off,” she added. She has not started in a World Cup before.
With only two NorAm slalom races left this season, Nullmeyer solidifies her NorAm slalom title with 540 points. U.S. Ski Team athlete Nina O’Brien is in second with 251 points and Moltzan sits in third with 230 points. Although Nullmeyer admits it will be difficult to win an overall title without racing speed events, she currently sits in the overall lead with 790 points.
Both men’s races were won by athletes that have extensive experience in the World Cup. Erik Read from the University of Denver won the race on day one with a combined time of 2:03.49. He was followed by Alpine Canada athlete Trevor Philp, 0.41 seconds behind. In third was Dominic Demschar from the University of Utah, 0.49 seconds back.
Although Read has spent a lot of time on the World Cup and is now ranked 27th in the world in GS, he said he still enters a NorAm with the same intensity as he does any race. Read said it’s just a different type of environment with different types of snow conditions, but it’s still a challenge.
“It’s still a battle,” Read said of his return to the NorAm circuit.
Philp took the second GS of the series with a time of 2:02.56. His Canadian teammate Phil Brown followed, 0.29 seconds behind, and in third was U.S. D-Team athlete George Steffey, 0.81 seconds back. In both races, Steffey showed that he is capable of keeping up with these World Cup athletes by winning both first runs on Wednesday and Thursday.
It was Steffey’s first time on a NorAm podium Even though he won each first run and was unable to secure a win, he said he was pleased with his results.
“Obviously, I was skiing well both first runs, and I was skiing well both of my seconds runs,” Steffey said. “I just had some mistakes that kept me from maintaining my position.”
“I’ve been skiing well and getting better all year. I’d say I’m definitely starting to figure out how to perform at my best every single run and how to ski as fast as I can and as clean as I can in race runs,” he added.
Brown currently leads the GS standings with 405 points. Nicholas Krause of the U.S. Ski Team sits in second with 315 points, and Hig Roberts is in third with 274 points.
The NorAm series continues Feb. 3-4 with the women racing GS at Copper Mountain and the men racing slalom at Vail. Full result for the women’s slalom series can be found here. Full results for the men’s GS series can be found here.
Photo: Canadians Ali Nullmeyer and Marina Vilanova finished 1st and 2nd for juniors in SL on day 1 of the NorAms in Vail. American Nina O’Brien finished in 3rd.