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Give some points, take some points

Ian Cropp

VAIL With U.S. Nationals in the bag and the NorAm champs far in the rearview mirror, theres still some good alpine skiing left in the season.Starting today, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail will be putting on FIS (International Ski Federation) races at Vail and Beaver Creek. Today and Sunday, there will be a giant slalom race at Vails Golden Peak, with a start list that includes U.S. Team members, as well as plenty of locals.One racer who is in a category of her own is Kristina Koznick. Last year, Koznick retired from the U.S. Team and moved to Edwards with her husband Dan Stripp, who coaches for SSCV. Although she retired, Koznick got in a few NorAm races earlier this season and is back on course this weekend.These will be my final four races, Koznick said. Im just doing it to give my points away.By entering the race, Koznick gives younger racers a chance to improve their points, as the system factors into account the level of competition at a race.Its about giving back to the sport, Koznick said. Even being around some of the younger kids, they can see how I inspect the course and my routine.Although Koznick did ski a few gates during the American Ski Classic late last month, she has been trying to stay away from racing this year.Ive kind of kept my distance, Koznick said. This winter has been my time to take time away from ski racing.You have to separate yourself enough where you can learn to let go.But once Koznick gets on course today, she cant promise shell throw the race.Its tough to race and not care about the outcome I spent too many years focusing on it, she said. Its not about me winning the races, but I cant help but go for it.Another notable race who will be on the hill is Kaylin Richardson, who won the womens U.S. downhill title last week. Many top college racers and NorAm competitors are also on the start list.

The men, who are in Breckenridge today for a giant slalom, will join the women for a pair of slalom races Monday and Tuesday at Beaver Creeks Bear Trap.There are a lot of good U.S. Team guys coming up, said SSCVs Will Gregorak.Gregorak, along with many others, is coming back from last weeks nationals, and has been taking it easy since then. Even with the end of the season in sight, Gregorak is heading into the races as serious as any others.Itll be just as competitive a race attitude, he said. You can get some good points.Gregorak thinks the race also provides a chance to get a boost of confidence.If you finish close to some of the top guys, you think, Maybe I can do better against them next time, or even exceed those expectation, he said.Erika Ghent of SSCV, who after nationals went back to school at Denver University for the quarter, will be back for the races.For me, Im excited because theres no pressure, and its just go out and ski like you know how, Ghent said.Because of the warm conditions, the race departments will likely salt the hills. After the salt penetrates deep into the snow, the surface refreezes, providing an adequate racing surface.The first run for todays and Sundays race begin at 9 a.m., with the second run to get underway at about 1 p.m.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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