With Solden in the books and the women kicking off the NorAm’s these last two days, (shout out to independent skiers Lila and Foreste for going one, two yesterday), it is finally time for me to sit in the office with live-timing on one of monitors while I tell myself I am capable of multitasking even though I won’t get anything done outside of the inspection window.
With the start of the season comes our first circuit preview. Since being chained to a desk has forced me not to compete the opening NorAm events, I’ll instead cite races where I beat all of the guys competing so that I can claim I would’ve won if I was there. Cause that’s how skiing works.
November NorAm’s are back! And with them comes a new venue. Copper Mountain put in some work during this offseason building out their new ‘tech’ venue. The result is just under 50 seconds of unrelenting pitch on injected Colorado snow. While some might be sad that they will actually have to turn this year rather than just skating across the flats of the DH start, the new hill promises plenty of carnage. With a steep injected surface and lots of talent in the field, it promises to be a fun two days.
Here’s who I think you should keep an eye on.
Of note, our governing body has elected to make this opening series slalom only, leaving more GS starts for later in the season. With so many World Cup GS skiers in town it only makes sense there wouldn’t be a GS race as competing against top level athletes is tough. Who wants that!
There will be two Rednecks kicking out of the gate come Thursday. Sandy will look to build on his solid 2019 NorAm campaign where he found himself in the top five three times, with two podiums. For sure in the back of his head will be that time I beat him two out of three runs on our home hill to claim the J3 Vt State SL title back in 2008.
People may think he got over it after crushing the competition the next week at Junior Olympics and further success at Whistler Cup, but I know it still haunts him. We are excited to see Sandy back racing on home soil after some bad luck with broken gates and toe pieces last year when racing up north. I’m feeling a big couple days from our big man.
Tucker will be kicking out right behind Sandy as a solid 2019 season has him positioned just inside the first seed. After struggling with a back injury for most of last season Tucker was able to find his zen in his cute Vermont cabin this summer and has the body feeling good for the start of the season (check it out his cabin on Airbnb if you need a weekend away with bae).
Lucky for Tuck the terrain on the new venue is right up his alley as some of his best NorAm results have come on the famed Hay Fever pitch up in Panorama.
While the boys are ripping the first races of the season you can catch Robby back east healing up and laying arcs all over Killington.
Other cool Vermonters to watch-
With the first slalom World Cup coming up this weekend in Levi, the top two finishers in the SL standings from last year will not be present, leaving the door wide open. One of the favorites to fill the gap has to be Ben Ritchie.
While I’m still convinced he should focus his talents on basketball, the young GMVS alum had an impressive 2019 NorAm season, claiming his first victory as well as a second place finish at the World Juniors SL.
After a ski brand switch last spring, Ben is skiing with confidence even though he got knocked out by the 32 seed last year at the NorAm parallel slalom at Mont Ste-Marie in Quebec. Some were shocked at the upset, but I knew I owned enough real-estate in his head to beat him out after I edged him out for 34th place at the opening NorAm Super G earlier in the season.
The other ‘kinda’ Vermonter I’m looking at to turn heads is another talented basketball player, Dartmouth skier AJ Ginnis. This will be AJ’s first start since returning from his 3rd ACL surgery. During his rehab he spent time at Duke University in an attempt to distance himself from me and the memory of being the runner up at J2 Vermont State SL Championships. Although it was a USSA race that he was using for training, I know having stand below me while looking up at my bad side has stuck with him.
Despite this early trauma, AJ has shown speed at all levels of the sport (including making me want to quit the sport training T-bar SL at Sugarbush) and is primed to show that he is ready to get back to an elite level.
However these next two days shake out we at Redneck are excited to get the season underway!