Vail Instructors Pro Series kicks off with slalom
VAIL – Tuesday afternoons on Golden Peak can only mean one thing – the Vail Instructors Pro Series – not the Vail Ski School Races.No, the former series, like Vail itself, has a new remodel. It’s not just gates anymore. This year instructors can compete in halfpipe, mogul and snowshoe events and a synchronized-ski competition.The traditional ski-school race began when ski school did in the early 1960s said Barb Smith, the race chairman and chief of race for the series.Forty years later, it was time for an update.”We are adding the other events because there has been a shift of importance of a variety of things on the mountain,” Smith said. “And our governing body PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) has different requirements such as halfpipe for full certification of instructors. It would be great to see a telemark skier in the halfpipe competition.”All disciplines are open to the instructors. And the instructors backgrounds according to Smith are as varied as the different disciplines.”We have former racers from the women’s Bulgarian Ski Team, ex-World Cup racers, Powder 8 Champions and high school and college racers that are instructors competing in the series,” Smith said.As well as building camaraderie with fellow instructors, the series which began Tuesday and runs through March 1, offers the ski teachers a chance to kick back and have a few beers. At the end of each race a party is held at the Gold Peak Grill and a video playback of the race is shown.The first, a slalom, was won by a familiar face on the race circuit, Franz Fuchsberger. Although he is just teaching part-time Fuchsberger’s race career is in full swing as the captain of Team Snowell in the Vail and Beaver Creek Town Race Series and as a member of the Masters’ races.”I’ve been doing the ski school races for close to 20 years,” Fuchsberger said, “I feel pretty good at 46, showing these young kids I can still ski.”After a successful run in ski school, Fuchsberger is now self-employed, selling racing suits and gear. The races, he claims, give him a chance to get out of the office.Each year the series has about 60 to 80 competitors according to Smith. With the new events, the turnout might be greater, but if Tuesday’s race and post race party are any indication, it will certainly be fun – regardless of who wins. Bantam A’s take two COLORADO SPRINGS – The Vail Bantam A’s swept a pair from the Fort Collins Junior Eagle last weekend in Divide League play.In the first game Vail posted an 82 victory.Niklas Porter went coast-to-coast to get Vail on the board in the first minute of play. Kodi Wyatt then added another goal on a 2-on-1 breakaway taking the feed from Taylor Beairsto. To start the second, Beairsto added another sweet pass, this time finding Todd Walker for the one-timer. Ryan Maddux from Beairsto put Vail up 41. Jordan Coffey closed out the second period scoring with a wrister, getting some help from Maddux. In the third, Maddux sucked the goalie out of the net then dumped the puck to Coffey for the tap in. Maddux then added another goal on a helper from Spencer Comerford, and Walker finished the scoring on a feed from Coffey.Goalie Kalen Burnett played strong in net rejecting 15 shots on goal.In Sunday’s game, Vail started slow, and trailed most of the game, before scoring three goals in the last six minutes for a 64 victory. In the first period, Kodi Wyatt evened the score 11 on a backhander, with the assists going to Maddux and Ryan Barry. Vail then fell behind 31 in the second. Beairsto finally beat the goalie on a helper from Wyatt as the period ended. J.R. Melzer then knotted the score to start the third, on a laser from the top of the circle from Connor Tedstrom. The Mountaineers fell behind again 43 before Maddux took over. Maddux scored the next to goals unassisted. Beairsto then sealed the deal with a backhander after a smooth spin move to beat the goalie. The team is coached by Eric Licktieg and next weekend travels back to Colorado Springs for its MLK tournament.