Veterans pace rookies at the Beav |

Veterans pace rookies at the Beav

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado
SPT Erika Ghent DT 1-22-08

BEAVER CREEK It’s on these slopes that skiers carve a turn to the next level.While the more experienced skiers set the pace and search for the perfect line, the younger one’s try to keep up and find some speed of their own. And sometimes, the youngsters blow by their elders.In Tuesday’s Surefoot Colorado Ski Cup super-G at Beaver Creek, racer’s took stock of their performances as they crossed and glanced at the electronic timing clock.The verdict?Pretty good stuff for local skiers.Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Erika Ghent took second and tops among junior racers, finishing the Centennial course in 1 minute, 24.50 seconds, 0.63 seconds behind winner Ann West.”I’ve been on this hill for a few years, and I’m one of the older girls, so I’m always trying to win,” said Ghent, who, as a second-year J1, is in her last year of junior racing. “Anytime you get to race, it’s good training. It’s good practice to get in the start gate and really be focused on what you have to do.”Three more SSCV skiers rounded out the Top 10 on the women’s side. Abby Ghent, a first-year J2, was seventh at 1:26.40, just 0.09 ahead of second-year J2 and teammate Delainey Ackerman. SSCV’s Georgia Wettlaufer was 10th, while three other J2 SSCV skiers rounded out the Top 20: Julia Keeler (16th), Jocelyn Irwin (17th) and Jessa Bardin (19th).Abby Ghent set a lofty goal of crashing the Top 5, but wasn’t disappointed with sixth.”It’s right there, so I’m happy,” she said. “You had to work so hard to get down, but it was so much fun and so worth it.”Along with the hill, Abby Ghent said she enjoys the Colorado Ski Cup series.”It lets J2’s race against the older girls and lets them into what they’re going to be going up against in a few years.”Another first-year J2, Kieffer Christianson, was 25th first in his birth year in a larger and stronger boys field.”I was really happy with my time considering I made some mistakes,” said Christianson, who skis with local team Iced Out Racing. “This is a lot different than last year, when I was skiing the J3 circuit. Coming to these (races) is fun and more challenging. Even if you have a great run, you won’t win.”SSCV’s Rett Smith, who was 11th, and third among J1’s, knows that while he may be one of the older and more seasoned racers, he can’t think that way.”You pretty much you have to bring the same attitude into every race, which is perform the best you can,” Smith said. “It’s just as easy to get beat really badly in a race like this as in a (North American Cup) if you don’t have the right attitude.”

At the top of the men’s podium was Quantum Ski Club’s Jason McNeil (1:20.79), one spot ahead of SSCV’s Nathan Asoian (1:21.51).”I’m happy,” Asoian said. “I overskied the course a little bit. I only made one mistake.”Coming into the races, Asoian had his sights set on beating McNeil.”We’ve known each other for a while. We’ve gone through the NorAm circuit together, so it’s a nice rivalry back and forth. It was good to see him win,” Asoian said. “We’re the old guys on the tour.”McNeil, overhearing Asoian, replied, “Did you call me the old guy?”Asoian, 22, then informed McNeil, 27, that he had included himself in the “old guy” category.For “old guys” like Asoian and McNeil, along with older female skiers, the race can’t really help their overall rankings in the ski world. In order to lower their points which is desired racers need to do well against other racers with low points.”It’s harder to score in these races because the points aren’t as low,” Erika Ghent said. “In order for me to score, I have to win by a lot.”There are several younger racers who have lowered their points, like Iced Out’s Hunter Schleper, who was the top J2 skier, and came in 20th overall. SSCV’s Will Gregorak, a first-year J1, was 14th. SSCV’s Sean Cummiskey came in 23rd with teammate Wyatt McKibben in 29th.Iced Out’s Kitt Flowers, was third among J2 racers and 30th overall, one spot ahead of SSCV’s Brian Shpall.

Tuesday’s course gave racers a mix of terrain that tested different speed skills.”This is a good hill,” Asoian said. “It’s a long middle flat, but the top and bottom are sweet. It’s a good race for us.”Some of the younger, lighter racers had trouble keeping speed on the flat sections, while a hump just past the finish line threw a bunch of early racers for a twist.”The finish is part of the course you always have to remember that,” Erika Ghent said.One SSCV racer straddled the final gate and suffered a severe crash at the finish and had to be transported to the hospital.The Colorado Ski Cup continues with another super-G today, downhill training on Thursday and Friday, followed by a pair of downhills over the weekend.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or

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