Luke Winters’ World Cup slalom run excites teammates at Copper
As is often the case in ski racing, the results from Sunday’s World Cup slalom opener will tell a different tale than the on-course splits.
Watching along from Copper Mountain on Sunday, members of the U.S. Team who were cheering on their teammate, Luke Winters, were watching the splits: +.06 seconds (fourth-fastest), +.26 (eighth-fastest) and +.57 (fifth-fastest).
A split frame on the race’s broadcast showed Winters to be ahead of eventual winner Henrik Kristoffersen’s pace before Winters crashed.
Winters was the only American competing in the first World Cup slalom of the season, which took place Sunday in Levi, Finland. Halfway through his first run, Winters was looking good.
“He was super-fast, on pace for a top-five from bib 40,” said Kyle Negomir, who was watching the splits from Copper. “He crashed five gates from the finish, which was a bummer, but it was super-cool watching his run.”
Negomir said seeing Winters perform well gave the rest of the team an air of confidence, as they know they can also compete at that level.
“We have a whole group of guys between the birth years of 2000 and 1997 who all have the potential to start scoring World Cup points here,” Negomir said. “It’s definitely a cool atmosphere to be a part of.”
AJ Ginnis, fresh off a win at the Nor-Am slalom opener, said Winters is coming up at a time when the team is in a good place to help him blossom.
“The Alpine team, whether you’re on the A team, B team or C team, is now fully funded, which is something that hasn’t happened in a long time,” Ginnis said. “This is an environment that’s more favorable toward young athletes like Luke.”
—Megan Harrod with the U.S. Ski Team contributed to this report
Leith raced through foggy conditions to a photo finish for second place, and ended up third.