The International Ski Federation (FIS) Western Region Spring Series of alpine racing got off to a speedy start for 132 competitors Wednesday and Thursday on Baldy. Race sponsor is Bentley Motors.
Super giant slalom racing was the first showcase event down one of Baldy’s prized runs—Warm Springs from the bottom of International down to the finish near the bottom of Lower Warm Springs.
Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Alpine Program Director Ruben Macaya was Chief of Race and SVSEF Alpine FIS co-head coach Pat Savaria was course setter for Wednesday’s 46-gate course covering 1.25 miles with a 1,952-foot vertical drop.
Men’s winner was Olympian Tim Jitloff, 29, of Reno, Nev. Jitloff competed five days after taking his second consecutive U.S. Alpine Championships giant slalom title Friday at Squaw Valley, Ca., and also winning the March 19 FIS giant slalom at Squaw.
It was Jitloff’s fourth U.S. title in giant slalom and fifth overall of his career. On Wednesday at Sun Valley, Jitloff (1:22.49) emerged a 0.20-second winner in the 80-racer field over 32-year-old Warner Nickerson (1:22.69) of Concord, N.H., a two-time NCAA All-American at Colby College.
SVSEF Gold Team racer Tanner Farrow, 20, finished ninth just 1.36 seconds off Jitloff’s pace. Farrow was the second U-21 (ages 18-20) competitor. SVSEF’s Kipling Weisel placed 21st (10-U21) and KJ Savaria 24th (11-U21).
Other SVSEF juniors and their overall finishes: 47—Ben Kanellitsas (27-U21). 51—Tanner Josey (13-U18). 53—Austin Savaria (15-U18). 54—Taylor Cooper (16-U18). 59—Emmett Say (20-U18). 60—Stockton Troyer (21-U18). 62—Griffin Curtis (22-U18). 63—Jay Fitzgerald (23-U18). 64—Montana Kurahara (24-U18).
Wednesday’s women’s winner in a 52-racer field was Anna Marno, 21, of Steamboat Springs, Co. (1:24.92) over two-time U.S. Olympian Megan McJames, 26, of Park City, Utah (1:25.11). Third place went to Abby Ghent, 22, of Edwards, Co. (1:27.57) and the Ski and Snowboard Club/Vail.
All three are ranked just below the top U.S. level. They must finance much of their training and travel costs that can cost between $15,000 and $25,000 each season.
Brought up in tiny Centennial, Wyo. near the Snowy Ranch Ski Area, Marno (5th U.S. women’s downhill, 15th U.S. GS in 2014) is finishing a bounce-back season that included an FIS giant slalom win at Eldora, Co. March 1.
After becoming the top junior at the 2012 U.S. Alpine Championships and placing second in the Nor-Am SG standings in 2013, she suffered a knee injury and has been recovering her form during the current 2013-14 season.
Ghent suffered her first major injury when she dislocated her elbow last October. The injury prompted Ghent to have a renewed appreciation for training and skiing.
She competed on the Nor-Am and European Cup tours from December through March. Eighth in the U.S. national downhill in December, she placed 13th in the national GS at Squaw last week and fifth in Sunday’s FIS GS finale.
SVSEF racer Haley Cutler was seventh overall (3-U18) Wednesday and Samantha Busby placed 10th (5-U18). Others: Linnea Baysinger 16th (4-U21), Karina Schwartznau 18th (5-U21), Madison Milgard 32nd (18-U18) and Olivia Wentzell 42nd (27-U18).
The six-race series continues today, Friday and Saturday, March 28-29 with men’s giant slalom on Hemingway run and women’s slalom on Cozy. Winding things up Sunday and Monday, March 30-31 are men’s SL on Cozy and women’s GS on Hemingway.
Forerunners Wednesday were Miles Fink-Debray, John Campbell and Robin Sarchett.
Sun Valley Company will stage a post-race party Saturday, March 29, on Warm Springs Plaza. Live music will start at 2:30 p.m. followed by an awards ceremony at 4 p.m.
Each race will be announced and broadcast live on the Plaza. Post-race awards will be staged on Monday at 2:30 p.m. on the plaza.