VAIL — A snowy course just added one more element of fun to an already enjoyable day of racing Saturday at the American Ski Classic.
With teams comprised of former pro ski racers, celebrities and regular Joes alike, the Ski Classic’s annual Ford Cup failed to disappoint again this year, although most of the spectating was done from the television monitors indoors.
“Considering how many racers were on this course today, it held up beautifully,” said Marta Wolfe, of winning team Vail Cascade Resort and Spa, captained by Michaela Greg.
Greg, who won several World Cup races during her career, which spanned from 1981 to 1996, said that while the event is always fun, her win made the American Ski Classic even more special.
“It makes me feel young,” she said after the win. “It makes me feel like it was 25 years ago.”
Also on Greg and Wolfe’s team was Jon Haerter, Dave Smiley and Balz Arrigoni.
The races are held in a head-to-head format, making it a competitive for the skiers, whose ability levels varied. Actor Bobby Carradine, of team Vail Resorts, wasn’t a skier at all. He rode the course on a snowboard.
Local celebrity Ryan Sutter said for him, part of the fun was touring around the mountain with his team, which was captained by Marc Giradelli, who has won more World Cup overall titles than any other male skier.
“He took it pretty easy with us, he was super helpful getting us on the right page and helping with technical stuff,” Sutter said.
Giradelli was using Swix wax, which local wax expert and Ford Cup racer Karl Hochtl, of HWK wax, got a kick out of, as the captain of Hochtl’s team, Finn Christian Jagge, was using Hochtl’s HWK wax.
“The Austrian racer was on Norwegian wax, and the Norwegian racer was on Austrian wax,” Hochtl said with a laugh.
“I needed it to slow me down,” Giradelli replied.
Hochtl’s a Vail native who attended both the ’89 and ’99 World Alpine Ski Championships as a kid.
“Finn Christian Jagge was at both of those events, I remember watching him and reading about him in the newspaper,” Hochtl said. “To be on the same team with him — and to get to wax his skis — is a dream come true.”
‘DREAM COME TRUE’
The phrase “a dream come true” was repeated frequently throughout the day.
Marta Wolfe said racing alongside the greats was the true highlight of the event for her, despite her team going on to win.
“It was so fun meeting everybody,” she said.
Wolfe qualified through the Conway Cup, the first competitive race of the American Ski Classic week, held every year on the Wednesday of the event. Local ski racers Natron Smith and Eugenia Manseau also qualified through the Conway Cup. Both echoed the “dream come true” sediments in talking about their team captains.
“She’s so dialed in,” Smith said of Olympic bronze medalist Karen Putzer. “And she’s such a beautiful skier. She just gave me a couple tips, and they were dead on — just what I needed to hear.”
Manseau said being on Olympic gold medalist Phil Mahre’s team was an honor.
“I remember getting my autograph from him when I was six years old,” she said.
In looking forward to next year’s event, second-place team captain Brigitte Oertli — the silver medalist in downhill and the combined at the ’88 Olympics — said she may come a little early to participate in one of her other favorite sports, which is featured the weekend before the Ski Classic.
“I might come early to do the Minturn skijoring,” she said.