Western’s Alpine Ski Team kicked off the 2016 season with a race weekend in Winter Park, Colorado. The team left with Friday after classes with hopes of good snow and a good time. Slalom started the next morning at 9:30am, so the athletes looked forward to a good nights rest before the early wake up call. The weather, however, had different plans. Deteriorating road conditions slowed the drive. When the team finally made it to Winter Park, they all hit the hay after a rushed, late dinner.
Team breakfast started at 6:30 am sharp and kick off a full day of racing. The women’s first slalom run began at 9:30, and Jamie Sitter was the first out of the gate for Western. Sitter gave Western a strong start to the day with a time of 57.326 followed by Shelbie Ralston with a time of 57.375. With times so close, a little friendly competition within the Western team was heating up. The men’s first run started shortly following the women’s first run on a different course. The second run for the women started at 11:45am. With close times between Westerns top two girls, they were both ready to bring their A game for the second run. Ralston was the first out of the gate; her time was 52.519, giving her a combined time of 1:49.894. Next up it was Sitter, pushing hard for the win, she was flying and unfortunately crashed only three gates from the finish. She pushed to the finish for a time of 1:01.998 and a combined time of 1:59.324. The women placed well: Ralston in 10th, Sitter in 22nd, Carley Clegg in 27th, Carmen Smith in 42nd, and Danielle Sweet in 47th.
The men’s second run inspection took place alongside the women’s race course. Tyler Long, the first male finisher for Western since 2008, finished with a combined time of 1:36.32. Next out of the gate was Jack Farrell, finishing with a combined time of 1:39.99. The finally for Western Jacob Saldi finished with a combined time of 1:54.55. Tyler’s overall place for the day was 18th, followed by Jack in 24th, and Jacob in 37th. After the long day of racing the team retired to their home and rested for the following day’s giant slalom race.
The team got up early again, but when packing up the van, they were greeted by almost two feet of powder and the snow still falling steadily. The fresh snow was very exciting but it made the idea of racing very unappealing. Western was the first team to boot up and head out on the mountain. Almost the entire team just wanted to go skiing and enjoy the fresh layer of snow, and instead had to slip the courses. As the snow piles in the two GS courses got bigger and harder to move, the safety of the course became questionable. The race officials were on the racers side this time as they decided that the conditions were too dangerous to race in and so they cancelled the race. Western’s Alpine Ski Team spent the rest of their day enjoying the new snow before heading back to school and real life. -Carmen Smith