USCSA Regionals were held at Brundage Mountain Resort in McCall, Idaho this past week. Many collegiate alpine ski teams traveled to compete against the best from the west. Universities like Rocky Mountain College, College of Idaho, University of Colorado Boulder and many others sent five of their best men and women racers. Western’s Alpine Ski Team was represented by Moriah Ernst, Shelbie Ralston, Carmen Smith, Carley Clegg and Jamie Sitter.
From campus, Brundage Mountain Resort is a fourteen hour drive when the roads are dry. The girls had plenty of time to chat, sleep, watch movies and come together as a team. And they had four days of skiing to race, train, socialize and maybe do some homework. After arriving Tuesday night, Wednesday was a training day. Teams brought gates and coaches set up a giant slalom (GS) course and a slalom course for the athletes to run. With over a hundred racers skiing the same courses multiple times, they got pretty beat up, to say the least.
Thursday was race day for the women. It was a typical GS day: two different courses, one run in the morning and one in the afternoon for a total combined time. The athlete can’t lose skis or miss gates, and must finish to be granted a second run. It’s not to be forgotten that the goal is to be the fastest down the course. With sixty six women competing from about fifteen teams, and of all different racing backgrounds, the competition was fierce. All of Western’s women finished both runs, with Shelbie in 25th place and Jamie on her tail in 28th place.
The women competed again on Saturday in a slalom race. Unlike the warm, blue sky days of GS racing, Saturday was snowy and chilly. Fresh snow poses a problem for races, it slows down the athletes and created dangerous piles outside the race line. If an athlete becomes late on a gate, and strays from the slipped out race line, the piles of fresh snow can throw the athlete and injure them. While inspecting, racers from every college slip the course to make it safer for everyone. Carley finished in 29th place and Carmen ended up in 36th. Shelbie and Jamie both ended up having to hike for gates and finished in 32nd and 41st respectively.
It was an awesome first season for Western’s Alpine Team. Most of the ladies came into it with little or no racing experience and contended with women who had been racing for much longer. With a great coach and community support, the team had a blast racing and looks forward to another great season ahead!
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