Beav’ teams go 1-2 at World Powder 8s
BLUE RIVER, British Columbia ” Shelley Giles and Nina Oqvist are the best in the world at what they do. Dieter Frank and Willi Glanznig are right up there, too.
Last weekend, Giles and Oqvist took first in the women’s division at the World Powder 8 Championships in Blue River British Columbia, while Frank and Glanznig took second in the men’s division.
“We’re still on a high,” Oqvist said.
After winning the U.S. Powder 8 Championships in Aspen last month, the Beaver Creek ski instructors teams did just about the same at the Worlds, where they heliskied was done on untracked runs.
Giles and Oqvist lost their first run in the two-run finals, but regrouped to lay down one of the best runs (160 points) out of any pair all weekend ” second best best to their semifinal run (160.5).
“For the second run, I was thinking the rhythm in my head,” said Giles, who is the lead skier. “We go back in the helicopter with the other girls, so you can’t talk too much. We had seven or eight turns before we got to the top of the starting area. I just had to get the feeling of an early edge (on my turns). Nina kept it calm in the start, and we just nailed it.”
Oqvist, despite being hit in the face with spray from Giles and the other team, was able to follow Giles in synchronicity.
“Shelley was skiing so well in front, which makes it easy for me to work in back,” Oqvist said.
And even though Giles never would look back to see where Oqvist is, she knows it wouldn’t be necessary.
“You just have that feeling, and you ski so much like the other person, that you trust that person,” Giles said. “When I have to pick up the pace because I feel that the girls next to me are catching up, I know she’s ready for that. She’s the best partner anyone can have.”
Frank and Glanznig won their first run in the finals against four-time winners Christoph Brugger and Sigfried Gruener of Austria, but a bit of controversy erupted at the start of the second run.
Both teams lined up side-to-side awaiting the signal from the starter, and Frank and Glanznig got an early jump on their opponents.
But Brugger and Gruener told the officials to stop the race, as the starter had not waved the flag to signal the start. (The starter only gave the verbal “Go” command, which Frank and Glanznig had heard.)
A restart was issued, and Brugger and Gruener jumped out to a lead and won the run by enough of a margin to take first overall.
“I felt bad for them because it wasn’t really their fault,” Oqvist said. “But they did a phenomenal job. And it was great for Beaver Creek to have the Nos. 1 and No. 2 teams in the world.”
Frank and Glanznig drove up to the competition, and were on their way home Thursday and unavailable for comment.
Unlike in years past, the women’s division this year was replete with quality teams.
“This is the best competition I’ve seen up there,” said Oqvist, who won world titles in 2000 and 2001. “Usually there are eight or nine teams, and some of them don’t really belong. This year there were 12 teams, and they were all pretty much ex-ski racers. Shelley had never really been a ski racer, but she’s such a smooth skier and she can step it up when it counts.”
Giles knows just for what the judges are looking, and how to make it happen.
“You want to be early in your turn, because by the time you are at the end of your turn, you want your center of mass to fall down the hill,” Giles said. “That’s what the judges are looking for. They are watching World Cup racers and trying to get it similar, but it’s a neater picture when you are skiing Powder 8s. In racing, you can get away with little mistakes, but this has to be kept neat.”
And much like the judges watched tape of racers, so did Giles and Oqvist.
“We were watching a video of last year’s men’s winners before we went to bed every night to get the feel for it, because Shelley hadn’t been there before,” Oqvist said.
“It helped me a lot,” Giles said. “It gives me a visual. I’m more of a feeler, but if I watch that, I can translate that to feeling.”
After both teams completed their final runs, they had several hours to kill before the judges announced the final results. So what did they do?
“We went freeskiing,” Oqvist said. “I finally didn’t have to follow (Shelley) around the mountain. I could actually ski first. It was awesome. I didn’t feel like turning. I just wanted to go straight down the mountain.”
Giles was a bit nervous, not knowing if they had won, but was pretty excited to be in that position.
“We knew we were either first or second,” Giles said. “If we didn’t win, it was because those other chicks could seriously ski. If we lost to them, it would have been fine.”
When Giles returned home, she got to celebrate her victory with one of her biggest fans ” her father.
“Today we went into Loaded Joe’s and he was pointing at me saying, ‘This is a world champion. This is a world champion.’ One guy said, ‘I guess this is your father and he has bragging rights for the rest of your life,'” Giles said.
Giles appreciates the accomplishment as much as her father.
“It’s something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life,” she said.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.