NorAm season gets underway for Alpine ski racers | VailDaily.com

NorAm season gets underway for Alpine ski racers

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail alpine skiers Carolina Jones, left, and Emma Hall at the North America Cup (NorAm) season opener in Panorama, Canada, which took place Dec. 10-16. Continental cup races like the NorAm and Europa Cup circuits are one level below the World Cup.

The North America Cup got underway for Alpine ski racers over the weekend, and for local coaches, that meant 44 hours of driving and a few nice results.

Panorama Mountain Resort in Canada was the site of a full week of racing, with everything but the downhill contested.

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail coach Mark Smith, who works mainly with girls from the U19 age group, said while he only had two athletes racing, they notched some impressive results in the first major event of the season.

"Caroline Jones scored points in the NorAm super-Gs and was actually 10th in the slalom," Smith said. "Emma Hall scored in both slaloms and a GS."

In one run of the slalom, Hall notched a seventh-place finish and Jones finished fifth.

"It's a solid start, for sure," Smith said.

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Jones, who is 17, and Hall, who is 18, are both from Avon. If they continue their solid results on the NorAm circuit, they will give themselves a shot at a spot on the U.S. team or a Division 1 college.

"The NorAm is the proving grounds for their next step," Smith said.

On the boys' side, coach Max Lamb took six Ski & Snowboard Club Vail boys up to Panorama for the races, and half of the squad left with top 30 results, scoring points on the NorAm circuit.

"They're all 17-18 years old … very good in the U21 ranks," Lamb said.

PREPPING FOR NATIONALS

The next NorAm races will again take place in Canada, in Ontario, where the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes will participate in four days of racing.

"We'll probably have several more athletes at those races," Smith said.

While no specific benchmarks have been set by their coaches, the local athletes competing on the NorAm circuit will try to build results throughout the season to culminate with the Toyota U.S. Alpine Tech Championships on March 23-26 in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.

Waterville Valley Resort will play host to the slalom, giant slalom and parallel slalom events. The parallel slalom event will be a new addition to the U.S. Alpine Championships calendar.

"The introduction of the parallel event into the U.S. Alpine Championships tech week is an effort the Alpine department has been advocating for and is excited about," said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine Director Jesse Hunt. "It's a format that spectators understand and enjoy. With the introduction of more parallel events in the World Cup, as well as the team event in the Olympic Games' calendar, it's important we begin to place more focus on the event. The inclusion of parallel into U.S. Alpine Championships is proof of our commitment to developing our young talent to reach the podium for this discipline at all levels in the future."

While Hall will likely stick with tech skiing for the remainder of the year, Jones' promising results in the super-G over the weekend could push her into the speed side of things, which means she may make trips to both the tech championships in New Hampshire and the speed championships in Sugarloaf, Maine, for super-G nationals on March 21.

TOP 20 FINISHES

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes and alumni

North America Cup season opener, Dec. 10-16

Panorama, Canada

Kyle Negomir 

2nd, Alpine combined

5th, super-G

18th, slalom

18th, giant slalom

Bridger Gile

4th, Alpine combined

7th, super-G

Cooper Cornelius 

9th, Alpine combined

13th, super-G

11th, giant slalom 

Jacob Dilling

14th, super-G

Sarah Schleper

8th, super-G

Nellie Rose Talbot

12th, super-G

Caroline Jones

10th, super-G

10th, slalom 

Alex Leever

8th, slalom

9th, giant slalom

Kalle Wagner

17th, giant slalom 

Emma Hall

19th, slalom