Skiers qualify for Junior Olympics & Arctic Winter Games

Slalom skier. Photo by Randy Bates.

Thirty-seven alpine ski racers from the Juneau and Alyeska ski teams will represent Alaska at the Western Region Junior Olympics and the Arctic Winter Games next month.

The selections were made after two statewide qualifying races for junior skiers, ages 12 to 19, including the Eaglecrest Cup, held over the holiday weekend at Juneau’s ski area.

As Rosemarie Alexander reports, young racers from Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks competed in the Eaglecrest Cup over the recent holiday weekend.

Ruts formed quickly in the soft snow on the giant slalom race course. Juneau skier Rebekka Ord was 11th out of the gate for the first run.

She skied across the finish line in 58.16 seconds. It didn’t her take long to determine where she’d lost time.

“I’m like completing my turn a little after the gate, and it’s hard to make the next gate,” she said.

The remedy?

“I’m going to try to set up a little earlier for the gates, not get as late,” Ord said.

Races are often won by hundredths of a second, and these skiers need that special ability to quickly analyze their mistakes and know how to fix them. That comes from training, practice, and that “ah-hah” moment, said Dan Ord, head coach of the Juneau Ski Club.

“When these kids really come to the point where they say, ‘Alright, Dan told me to do this, I’m going to do it;’ if they don’t make that conscious decision, it’s not going to happen,” he said.

In her second giant slalom run, Rebekka Ord shaved more than two and a half seconds off her time. Teammate Ali Hiley also had some changes to make after the first run.

“Second run I think I’m going to stand on my downhill ski more. Get more weight on that so I’m not as bounced around,” she said. “Go straight at the gates.”

Hiley knocked off some time in her second run.

The GS and a slalom race were set on the trail named after Juneau’s Olympic medalist Hilary Lindh. The teens are chasing points to be ranked by the United States Ski and Snowboard Association. Alaska belongs to the Far West region.

“We sanction races for J-1, 2, 3 and 4 age classes, 12 to 18 years old. You know they race and compete against each other,” Coach Ord said.

The Eaglecrest Cup was a Junior Olympic qualifying race for J-3s, kids ages 13 and 14. J-1 and 2s, ages 15 to 19, qualified at the Alyeska Cup in Girdwood earlier this month. The older racers can earn seed points at both the national (USSA) and international (FIS) levels.

The final race of the Eaglecrest Cup, a combined giant slalom and slalom, was not a USSA-sanctioned race.

GS is faster and has fewer gates than slalom.

“They’re spread out. Your turn shape, let’s say, would be anywhere from a 20- to a 30-degree radius, so you really have time to draw it out,” he said, adding that GS requires both power and finesse.

“It’s a touch. It’s like a fine-tuned art to get it right. You can’t go straight at the gates and throw your skis sideways,” Ord said.

With slalom, the turns happen quicker.

“They’re a 10-meter radius and it’s kind of like a bap, bap, bap, you know. With the kids in slalom, one of the things I say is, ‘If you don’t feel like you’re out of control, you’re not going fast enough,’ ” he said, laughing, “but using all the fundamental skills that will allow them to stay in a course.”

At the Western Region Junior Olympics next month, the youth will race in GS, slalom and super G. Juneau racer Quincy Bates will compete with J-3s at Big Sky, Montana. Joe Greenough will race against fellow J-1 and 2s at Schweitzer Mountain in Sandpoint, Idaho. Other Alaska team members are from the Alyeska Ski Club.

Juneau skiers Adrienne Audet and Shane Kelly will join Alyeska alpine skiers to represent Alaska at the Arctic Winter Games, also in March, in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Click here for Eaglecrest Cup results.

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