Ghent sisters representing Vail on both alpine circuits
Vail, CO Colorado
WINTER PARK – It was good to be ski racing as a Ghent in 2011.
Vail natives Erika Ghent, 22, and Abby Ghent, 18, had great seasons on two different circuits of alpine competition.
It was Abby’s first year on the U.S. Ski Team, facing new challenges and having some late-season success, while Erika won her first NCAA national title skiing for the University of Colorado Buffs. Both racers are alumni of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.
Every now and then, the sisters cross paths at venues such as the NorAm series and this weekend’s U.S. Alpine Championships. They say they like racing together and often exchange course reports back and forth.
“It’s kind of cool because Abby and I are four years apart, so up until the past few years, we never really raced together very much,” Erika said. “It’s been really fun because I can ask her advice as much as she asks for my advice. Now, my little sister is on the U.S. Ski Team, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Making the transition from a club team to the national team can be a tough one. Abby Ghent seems to have figured it out, but it took some getting used to in the beginning of the season.
“Moving over to a new team, I had new teammates that I didn’t really know. I had new coaches with different coaching techniques,” Abby said. “And there were moments when I was thinking, how the heck am I going to make it through?”
Abby’s highlight and best result of the season was at NorAm Finals up in Whistler, where she took second in the super-G.
“Everything is a focus for me right now,” she said. “I need to focus on slalom a little more because it doesn’t come as easy for me. And then I had to refocus on GS, and that kind of went over to super-G as well.”
“I had to overcome some new challenges, but think I ended the season really strong,” she said. “I’m happy and I think my coaches are happy, too.”
Abby’s plans for the summer include spending about a month and a half up at Mount Hood in Oregon, and then next year, she is definitely taking a year off from school to focus on her efforts with the U.S. Ski Team. The hope is to qualify for the C-Team, which brings with it new perks.
Sophomore at the University of Colorado, Erika Ghent led the way to an emotional win with the fastest combined time at the NCAA National Championship in Stowe, Vt., last month.
The championship and the season were in honor of teammate Spencer Nelson, who died last fall hiking outside of Aspen.
“It was pretty cool. At the beginning of the season, we said we have to win because that would have been his goal,” Erika said.
Racing on the collegiate circuit makes it tough to compete at the FIS level because students are going up against racers that are spending more time on snow, especially in the speed events.
“I’m happy with how I skied this year,” she said. “In college, it’s hard because you don’t get as much training. You don’t get as much time on snow. You have to take advantage of every opportunity you have on snow, so I’m really happy with the way I ended the season.”