Windy weather pushes skiers at Junior Olympics in Vail |

Windy weather pushes skiers at Junior Olympics in Vail

Ian Smith
Vail, CO Colorado
JO's downhill training Braun 2 KA 03-05-09

VAIL, Colorado ” Mother Nature did its best to affect Day 1 of the Junior Olympics, but it didn’t matter.

First, warm weather tried to sabotage the Golden Peak course in Vail. Then, wind gusts up to 40 mph wrecked havoc on just about everything during Thursday’s downhill training.

In the end, the wind caused more frustration for the time keepers than the skiers. The only section of the course that wind played a factor was on the jumps toward the top. Ski and Snowboard Club Vail coach J.J. Jensen estimated most of the athletes were flying more than 60 feet.

“When the wind is blowing 40 mph and you’re skiing 60 mph you need to stay forward (in your skis),” Jensen said.

The wind seemed to affect the smaller skiers more, likely causing them to lose a few ticks on the clock.

“I felt the wind come right at me,” SSCV’s Thomas Grant said. “I needed to go more forward.”

Anthony Romano, who took second in Thursday’s downhill training, said the key is being ready for the wind to send skiers off their line.

“The wind plays some factor,” Romano said. “You can only get lucky if you go over a jump and the wind isn’t there to push you around. You have to keep tight in the air and hope you go where you want to go.”

Course gets thumbs-up

One thing most of the skiers agreed on was the shape of the course. Despite warm temperatures threatening to create a slushy mess, the course was in excellent condition. At the bottom, the sun reflected an icy glare characteristic of any good downhill course.

“The course was awesome,” Jensen said. “If we don’t too much snow, I expect it to be awesome again (today).”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, SSCV skiers said the course was wet during training runs. There was no sign of that on Thursday.

“The course is holding up really well,” SSCV’s Katharine Irwin said. “It’s hard and fast. It didn’t get slushy. It stayed hard.”

The forecast calls for snow on Friday and Saturday, but Jensen said Vail Mountain is ready with snowcats to get the course back in racing shape if a significant amount falls.

Headgear watch

Thursday’s downhill training could have passed for a fashion show. Everything from the suits, boots and helmets were uniquely styled.

The winner of the day was Ted Ligety’s “Shred” goggles. The intense colors look like they should be on a road sign, not a skier’s head.

Ligety made the funky color scheme famous when he shocked the world to win gold at the 2006 Olympic Games in the combined. He started Shred Optics shortly after and it looks like his products are catching on.

Grant chose a more conservative white pair of “Shred” goggles with purple lettering during his run to seventh place on Thursday.

“These are the cool goggles to have,” Grant said. “They are very good goggles.”

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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