Resnick, Leever, SSCV alumni impress at Copper Mountain NorAm
Resnick claimed two podiums while Leever placed 4th and 2nd in back-to-back slalom events
The Copper Mountain North American Cup (NAC) continued this week, and local athletes kept last week’s momentum going. Sunday was the second round of men’s giant slalom, while Monday and Tuesday were the slalom events for both genders. The slaloms were originally scheduled for Vail Mountain.
On Sunday, the U.S. men put three in the top seven with Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy’s Bridger Gile placing seventh in a race won by Switzerland’s Thomas Tumler. University of Colorado freshman and SSCV alumni Jacob Dilling finished 15th after his second run dropped him four places.
On Monday, it was former University of Denver, SSCV and Vail Mountain High school athlete Alex Leever who came out sizzling in the slalom finishing in fourth place, just 13-hundredths of a second off the podium.
“I was happy with my results on Monday,” Leever wrote in a post-race email. “I didn’t have two of my best runs and I still ended up fourth overall and first American, which left me feeling confident that given my best skiing, I could be at the top of the podium the next day.”
Leever’s thoughts were prescient. He finished in the runner-up position and was part of an American sweep. Luke Winters, Leever and Garret Driller took the top three with George Steffey right behind in fifth.
“I felt like I was really attacking and charging down the course, which I wasn’t doing as much on Monday,” he said.
His showing at Copper left him feeling confident as he heads over to to Val d’Isere, France later this week. Though Leever’s plans are to spend the season skiing World Cup and Europa Cup events, the NorAm opener serves an important purpose in his schedule.
“The first race of the year always brings those nervous energies and pre-race jitters back, and it was really great to to feel those insecurities in a race where there wasn’t as much pressure as there will be later this year on the World Cup circuit,” he said. “I was happy with how I skied technically; I skied four good clean runs, which was a tough ask on this hill.”
The NorAM (NAC) circuit has been dormant for nearly two years in the U.S. Leever, who scored his first World Cup points in memorable fashion last January, believes the events are “a crucial stepping stone for domestic athletes to improve their point profiles.”
“Without these races, the U.S.’s development as a whole was stunted slightly, as the rest of the world continued to plow ahead while American athletes were unable to improve their points and world rankings. The importance of having these races back cannot be overstated, its great to be back skiing in the U.S.!” he wrote.
Leever took what he referred to as a “creative” approach to his off-season training. As an independent athlete, all of his training is done outside of the U.S. team. He trained with Alexander Khoroshilov and the Russian team in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Training with Khoroshilov, who in 2015 became the first Russian in 34 years to win a World Cup race, was an amazing experience, according to Leever.
“Being able to pace with some of the best in the world was incredibly helpful,” Leever said of his time in Switzerland. He is hoping to link up with the U.S. team in Europe, but also plans on skiing with the Russians as well as a few other nations throughout the winter.
“The skiing world can really be a happy little family!” he remarked.
Speaking of family, Allie Resnick has had to make due without the usual camaraderie of her sister Emma, who is still rehabbing from the torn ACL she suffered at a training camp in August.
“I’m lucky to be so close to my sister,” Allie said after her races when asked about working through injuries, of which she is no stranger.
“And so, I think it’s definitely hard right now to watch her on the sidelines — and I know she felt the same way when I was on the sidelines three years ago — but she’s doing so well and I’m really impressed with both her attitude and her determination to get back faster and stronger than before.”
Even without the younger sibling at her side, Resnick showed peak form Monday, continuing her busy, long weekend by rounding out the North American sweep of the slalom podium. She finished in third place, right behind fellow Dartmouth freshman Zoe Zimmerman. Sharing her first NorAm podium with a teammate was icing on the cake.
“It was super special. Definitely a day I won’t forget,” she said about being alongside Zimmerman in the standings. Canada’s Kiara Alexander won the overall title on Monday. Madeleine Dekko, another SSCV alumna, finished in sixth, while 16-year old Kjersti Moritz and Carissa Cassidy, both of SSCV, finished in 10th and 12th, respectively.
Resnick climbed even further up the podium Tuesday, placing second behind U.S. teammate Lila Lapanja. Tegan Wold, who grew up racing for SSCV but now competes for Montana State, placed seventh. Cassidy just missed the top ten, placing 11th in a field stacked with Swedish, Norwegian, Canadian, Austrian, Japanese, Australian, Great British, Belgian and Czechoslovakian athletes.
“I was very happy,” Resnick summarized.
The results earned Resnick a spot to compete in both slalom and giant slalom at this weekend’s World Cup in Killington, Vermont.
“I’m so excited — I can’t wait,” Resnick gleefully spoke in regard to the opportunity. The U.S. Ski team B athlete earned an objective placement in the slalom and a discretionary giant slalom bib. In reflecting on the Copper Mountain week, she had a few positives to draw on, which she hopes to bring into the next slate of runs.
“I was really happy with how I managed the pressure to perform,” she said about the last four days of races, also citing the lengthy gap between NorAm events as being a potential mental barrier. ”I was definitely happy with the way I was able to show up and put down some fast race runs, and I’m hoping to do the same thing in Killington.“
Resnick said she is thrilled to make her first World Cup slalom and giant slalom starts on American soil.
“I think it’s so special,” she said about the home court advantage.
After Killington, Resnick will head overseas for the Europa Cup.
“It’s really hard; the competition is so deep, but it’s definitely the next step to prepare you for success on the World Cup.”
Resnick received her first World Cup opportunity in November of 2020, when she started the Lech/Zuers parallel but did not finish her second run. With the hot start out of the gate and a growing list of opportunities on the near horizon, it is difficult for her to pinpoint an objective goal for the year.
“I feel like my outcome goals are changing every day,” she said, pausing to contemplate her overarching vision.
She is hoping to break through in the Europa Cups and find her way into the top 30, or even top 15. She’ll stay focused on the process along the way.
“Long term, you know, it’s just keeping the energy high and progressing through the standings,“ she said of her mindset.
The NCAA student just finished her first fall term, but will take winter term off to focus on skiing.
“It was definitely a challenge trying to balance athletics and academics, but I’m really happy with my decision to go and start school and push my brain in other ways,” she said.
“I can’t wait to go back this spring.”
With this year’s World Junior Championships being her last, but also overlapping with the NCAA championships this year, Resnick has decided to forgo NCAA competition.
“I’m definitely planning on skiing for Dartmouth at NCAA’s, hopefully next year.”
The North American Cup, the second tier of international competition in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard pipeline, enables athletes to earn points toward qualifying for Europa Cups and World Cups. It’s schedule moves to Lake Louise, Canada Dec. 6-10 for a downhill and super-giant slalom event. The final NorAm event in 2021 is the following week in British Columbia, for the super-giant slalom, giant slalom, slalom and parallel giant slalom events.