Photo from BC Alpine website: www.bcalpine.comPhoto from BC Alpine website: www.bcalpine.com

Photos: Stephanie Fleckenstein and Antonia Wearmouth

Snow King in Jackson, Wyoming played host the opening slalom race series of the Nor-Am Cup series. A lack of natural snow did not prevent the hill crew from putting down a hard double-injected layer of ice as a racing surface. Stefanie Fleckenstein (WMSC) and fellow BC Ski Team teammate Antonia Wearmouth (Grouse Tyee), along with Coach Ryan Jazic joined a strong Canadian contingent that included World Cup stars Marie Michelle Gagnon and Erin Mielzynski in addition to national team members Laurence St-Germain and Mikaela Tommy. The 50-strong field included racers from host USA, Norway, Germany and Japan, with several national team members treating the event as a warm-up to this coming weekend’s World Cup tech races at Aspen.

Gagnon won opening race, posting a 2-run time of 1:48.70, just over 1 second ahead of St-Germain, with Norway’s Tuva Norbye claiming the final podium spot. The top U19 was USA’s Nina O’Brien, followed by Panorama’s Amelia Smart and USA’s Keely Cashman in 10th, 11th and 12th overall. Wearmouth and Fleckenstein rounded out the young guns brigade in 13th and 14th spots. Stefanie noted: “it was clear after the first run on Tuesday that the water injected surface was going to be a challenge. The first course set was tricky, and combined with the icy surface, a lot of the girls were caught off balance and about half of the field posted DNF’s. I took advantage of what I learned on the first run to push hard through the tricky, icy bottom section of run 2, and I’m pleased with this start to my season.”

The second race of the series saw Erin Mielzynski make up for the disappointment of the first day’s DNF with a narrow .45 sec win over Gagnon. USA team member Lila Lapanja rounded out the podium in 3rd. O’Brien was once again top U19 followed by team-mates Galena Wardle and Stephanie Lebby edging Fleckenstein off the U19 podium (9th, 11th, 13th and 14th respectively). Wearmouth finished 17th in the strong field which again saw almost half of the competitors fail to finish the steep icy race pitch. Stefanie summed up the series: “the racing conditions here at Snow King have been amazing the past two days of racing. The snow on the top 2/3rds of the course was grippy and perfect and the double injected snow at the bottom of the course was great practice for conditions that we’ll see back east later this winter. Not only were the sunny conditions awesome, so were the competitors. Getting to race against World Cuppers like Erin and Mitch (Gagnon) as well as Resi Stiegler, Kristine Haugen and Monica Huebner is a great learning experience for aspiring racers like Antonia and me. Coach Jazic had us well prepared for this series and I think that it showed in our results. Overall I am very happy with how this first series went and I’m excited to head over to Copper Mountain for the GS race series next week.”

~ submitted by Stephanie Fleckenstein