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Ross, McKennis Duran celebrate retirement at Saturday’s downhill

Two-time Olympian and two-time national champion Alice McKennis Duran took a final lap to celebrate her retirement in between the two downhill runs at the U.S. Alpine Championships on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at Aspen Highlands. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Two World Cup mainstays said goodbye — including one of the Aspen area’s own — and a rare tie occurred atop another leaderboard on Saturday in what was downhill day at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Aspen Highlands.

Oregon’s Laurenne Ross and New Castle’s Alice McKennis Duran both announced their retirement from the U.S. ski team in recent days and celebrated together during Saturday’s downhill races. McKennis Duran is a local namesake who grew up skiing at Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs and formerly trained with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club.

The women combined for 274 World Cup starts over careers that spanned more than a decade each and included a pair of Olympic appearances for both.

“It feels surreal,” Ross said. “Having Alice do her last race, and just being in the start with her and knowing it was the last time we got to do that together was really emotional and kind of hard to get it together for the race. But I just wanted to have fun.”

While McKennis Duran, who splits her time between homes in Minturn and Moab, used Saturday’s downhill as more of a ceremonial race, with her husband, Pat Duran, following behind with the camera, Ross entered the starting gate looking to compete, despite her desire to just “have fun.”

Laurenne Ross celebrates her victory in the downhill at the U.S. Alpine Championships on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at Aspen Highlands. Ross recently announced her retirement.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

The 32-year-old actually won the women’s downhill on Saturday — which had a rare two-run format — in a combined 2 minutes, 18.49 seconds, holding off California’s AJ Hurt (0.45 back) and Utah’s Lauren Macuga (0.89 back) for the national championship.

“I’m competitive as hell, so I knew I was going to try and go fast so I didn’t really have to worry about that,” Ross said. “I’m really happy … happy to be here with all my friends and of course it’s really wonderful to win my last actual race.”

Ross plans to take her victory lap in Tuesday’s super-G national championship race. The giant slalom and slalom national championship races are Thursday and Friday at Highlands.

Hurt, 20, and Macuga, 18, both grew up watching Ross compete and the native of Bend was thrilled to share her final podium with her young U.S. teammates.

“It’s really cool to see their talent … and to see their passion and drive,” Ross said. “Also, just their compassion for others is really refreshing. I remember being their age and being around the older girls and just being a little bit scared of people, and not really having that camaraderie as much, but it’s nice to get to know them and to see them start to blossom in their careers. It’s exciting.”

American skiers Thomas Biesemeyer and Jared Goldberg congratulate each other after tying for first place in the men’s downhill at the U.S. Alpine Championships on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at Aspen Highlands. This was Biesemeyer’s first gold in a downhill national championship.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

In the men’s downhill on Saturday, U.S. mainstays Tommy Biesemeyer and Jared Goldberg shared the national championship in a rare tie, as both finished with a two-run combined time of 2:13.29. Biesemeyer just edged Goldberg on the first run, but Goldberg got him back just as equally in the second run.

Maine’s Sam Morse finished third on Saturday, 0.29 back of the winners. Minnesota’s Isaiah Nelson was fourth, Aspen’s own Tristan Lane was fifth and another Aspenite in Bridger Gile came in seventh.

While Goldberg, 29, remains active as a ski racer, Biesemeyer, 32, announced back in October he was stepping away from competition and effectively came out of retirement to race at nationals. He also competed in a series of FIS races at Whiteface Mountain in New York both in February and March, winning a few of the races.

Racing continues Sunday with a FIS downhill for both men and women, while Monday is an off day before Tuesday’s national championship super-G and combined races for the women.

“It’s been really fun to come here and race on a pretty chill venue, and I’ve been wanting to have nationals here for years,” Goldberg said. “It’s just such a fun venue, and it’s easy for them to set up and for us you can kind of relax and have fun with it, and this time of year that’s what we need after a long World Cup season.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Glenwood’s Cornelius fourth in combined at nationals, Radamus wins super-G

Glenwood Springs skier Cooper Cornelius navigates the U.S. Alpine Championship course on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at Aspen Highlands. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

After missing all of last season due to injury, Cooper Cornelius is still rounding back into form. But the Glenwood Springs ski racer put down some of his best runs of the season Wednesday, finishing just off the podium in the men’s combined at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Aspen Highlands.

“I feel great about today. It’s my best result so far in this series. I know I’m skiing well,” Cornelius told The Aspen Times. “It’s just a lack of consistency sometimes from top to bottom. I honestly thought my better run of the day was going to be in super-G, just because that’s been a stronger event all year for me. But it was a really nice surprise to throw down a slalom run and move up a few places.”

Cornelius, who grew up racing with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, was fourth in Wednesday’s combined with a two-run time of 1 minute, 47.66 seconds. He was 0.86 seconds off the pace set by combined winner Luke Winters, an Oregon native and U.S. B team member who had a time of 1:46.80. In second was Canadian and University of Denver skier Simon Fournier, 0.27 back, and in third was River Radamus, 0.51 back of Winters.

Middlebury’s Erik Arvidsson was fifth and Aspen’s Bridger Gile finished sixth in the combined, a day after snagging a podium in giant slalom. Vermont’s Ben Ritchie, who won Monday’s slalom national title, had the fastest slalom run on Wednesday (36.97 seconds), but was well off the pace in super-G.

Radamus, one of the country’s rising stars who hails from Edwards, won Wednesday’s super-G national championship, which also served as the first run of the combined race. His time of 1:08.64 held off Winters by 0.16 and Maine’s Sam Morse by 0.22. Radamus also won the delayed 2020 U.S. national championship in giant slalom prior to the season.

“In slalom, I knew I was in for a battle with Luke — he’s skiing amazing in slalom right now — and I really wanted to execute and give him a good fight,” Radamus said. “He’s really good though, so I didn’t quite do what I wanted to, but there’s no shame in losing to him right now, so I’m satisfied.”

Fourth in super-G on Wednesday was Aspen’s own Tristan Lane, who is currently skiing for DU. He was seventh in the combined.

The fourth-place combined finish was a satisfying result for Cornelius, who did not finish Monday’s slalom and was 15th in Tuesday’s GS. He was 10th fastest in super-G.

Currently 21, Cornelius is in his third season on the U.S. ski team, where he’s a member of the C team. Late in his first season with the national team, Cornelius suffered a major knee injury that forced him to miss all of the 2019-20 competition season. He made his return this past November at the 2020 national championships — delayed from last spring because of the pandemic — at Copper Mountain, and has kept up a rigorous schedule since then, competing in mostly FIS races and a few Europa Cup events.

“Definitely after a long year of travel, it’s nice to be an hour or so from where I live,” Cornelius said of nationals being held in Aspen. “It was generally good skiing, just some costly mistakes (throughout the season). And other days, maybe not so good. But that’s why you got to continue to grind and keep working at it. But it was the most time I’ve spent in Europe.”

The 2017 Glenwood Springs High School graduate said his knee is fully healed, although he’s still learning to regain the same mental confidence and trust in his body he had before the injury. But overall, Cornelius is feeling strong and determined to make a climb up the ladder next season. He’s knocking on the door of his first World Cup start and figures to be a factor in the battle to make the U.S. Olympic team next winter ahead of the 2022 Winter Games in China.

“A lot of it comes down to who is healthy next year. A lot of stuff can change, so you never know. But I definitely know I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to be in that mix,” Cornelius said. “I’m very excited for the challenge. I’m more than ready to make a statement as soon as the next year kicks off.”

Cornelius also plans to compete in the men’s downhill national championship on Saturday. That race, along with the women’s downhill, was moved up a day from Sunday by the race jury late Wednesday. They condensed the two days of downhill training into one day, which will take place Friday. There is a FIS race — as in, not for a national championship — slated for Thursday.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Aspen local Bridger Gile top American, takes third in GS at U.S. ski nationals

Aspen local Bridger Gile relaxes on the ground outside of the U.S. Alpine Championships giant slalom course on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, at Aspen Highlands. Gile finished in third place.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Aspen local Bridger Gile bounced back from a tough start at the U.S. Alpine Championships by finding his way onto the podium Tuesday in the men’s giant slalom at Aspen Highlands.

The 21-year-old, who is a member of the U.S. B team, led after the first run on a day when conditions were again less than ideal. Warm, spring weather again wreaked havoc, this time with gusty, snow-drying winds added into the mix.

“The course was pretty long … I’d say I’m pretty beat from the season in general. At least it’s warm weather, so that’s nice and makes it easier to be outside,” Gile said. “But, it makes the snow softer … they did their best to keep it as hard as they could, but it’s pretty hot out — and I think that makes the course more tiring, as well.”

Gile was third to lead the American skiers on Tuesday with a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 32.62 seconds. His first-run time of 1:14.05 was the leader in the clubhouse, but he slipped down the podium with a second-run time of 1:18.57, which was 10th best.

Taking the win was Austria’s Tobias Kogler, who skis for the University of Denver. His time of 2:32.43 held off runner-up Joachim Bakken Lien of Norway — he’s a University of Utah athlete — by 0.08 and Gile by 0.19 in a competitive race.

“COVID kind of prevented me from going over to Austria (for nationals) … and I was stoked that it is here in Aspen,” Kogler said. “We just kept the race rhythm … we did NCAAs, never stopped training, did some FIS races, and then a week ago we got a new coach. He got us all fired up and that was the last bit of energy I needed.”

It was a good showing for Gile, who was among nearly four dozen to not complete Monday’s slalom. Tuesday marked Gile’s first significant podium since he nabbed a first and second in giant slalom at the Italian national championships last month in Pozza di Fassa.

Gile also plans to compete in Wednesday’s combined and Sunday’s downhill.

“I need to work on my fitness because second run I crashed and I couldn’t go any faster,” Gile said. “It’s a good way to end the season knowing you need to get stronger because you work out harder in the summer.”

Finishing in a tie for fourth on Tuesday were the University of New Hampshire’s Patrick Kenney and Minnesota’s Isaiah Nelson, who was the top junior on the day.

“I definitely attacked really hard. … (Monday) night in our meeting we talked about the aggression of that second-run mentality,” the 19-year-old Nelson said. “I was happy to move up and almost get on the overall podium, which would have been super cool.”

Middlebury’s Erik Arvidsson, who took second in Monday’s slalom, was sixth in GS. Vermont’s Ben Ritchie, who won Monday’s slalom, was well back in 23rd place. Vail’s River Radamus, one of the favorites entering Tuesday’s GS, finished 10th.

Finishing 15th was Glenwood Springs product Cooper Cornelius, who grew up racing with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. Like so many, Cornelius did not finish Monday’s slalom.

Remaining 2021 U.S. Alpine Championships Schedule

Wednesday, April 7, Super-G/Alpine Combined National Championships, Men

Friday, April 9, Downhill Training, Men/Women

Saturday, April 10, Downhill Training, Men/Women

Sunday, April 11, Downhill National Championships, Men/Women

Tuesday, April 13, Super-G/Alpine Combined National Championships, Women

Thursday, April 15, Giant Slalom National Championships, Women

Friday, April 16, Slalom National Championships, Women

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Vermont’s Ben Ritchie tames tricky course to win the men’s slalom at U.S. nationals

United States alpine skier Benjamin Ritchie competes in the second run of the U.S. Alpine Men’s Slalom Championships at Aspen Highlands on Monday, April 5, 2021. Ritchie finished in first place.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Vermont’s Ben Ritchie was among the few to navigate a tricky course in a warm beginning to the U.S. Alpine Championships on Monday, winning the men’s slalom at Aspen Highlands.

The sunny, spring conditions forced race organizers to move up the start to 7:30 a.m. Only 23 racers officially finished, with 33 recording DNFs — did not finish — on the first run alone. Among those were notable names such as Vail’s River Radamus and Steamboat’s Jett Seymour.

Still, Ritchie chimed in that the course held up better than expected. For him, at least.

“This morning we all thought it was going to be one of the worst races of the year here,” Ritchie said. “But the snow is way better than I would ever expect it would have been, even with the warm weather. So hopefully it will stay like that through the week.”

Ritchie posted a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 43.11 seconds, a 0.84 advantage over runner-up Erik Arvidsson (1:43.95), a native Californian and Middlebury College product.

Rounding out the podium on Monday was Tahoe’s Garret Driller, a former Montana State University skier, in 1:44.46, placing him 1.35 seconds back of Ritchie. Norway’s Wilhelm Normannseth, a University of Utah athlete, was just off the podium in fourth.

Times were significantly quicker on the second run, with Ritchie trimming his first-run time of 54.26 seconds down to 48.85 on his second run to go from fourth to first. First-run leader Luke Winters of Oregon did not finish his second run, nor did Greece’s AJ Ginnis, who was third after a run. Arvidsson had been second at the halfway point.

A handful of athletes with local ties were caught up in the DNF epidemic, including U.S. ski team members Bridger Gile and Cooper Cornelius.

Monday’s slalom was the first day of nearly two weeks of racing at the national championships, which is being held slightly later in the spring season than normal. The event came together rather quickly and replaced the previously planned NorAm Cup Finals at Highlands, which were canceled.

In a way, it’s an apt finish to a difficult season overshadowed by the pandemic.

“It’s definitely been a really different season than I would have ever expected,” Ritchie said. “It’s had its weird moments with COVID and ups and downs with results, but I think through out the whole year I made a really solid, steady increase in my racing performance and skiing, which eventually turned out to have some good results.”

Ritchie, a U.S. B team member, has a handful of World Cup starts under his belt going back to 2019, but with little substantial success outside of a strong 13th-place finish in slalom at the World Championships earlier this February in Italy.

He also won the men’s slalom at the Junior World Championships on March 5 in Bulgaria, a notable accomplishment for the 20-year-old Green Mountain Valley School product who is now a national champion.

“I’m happy with the progress I made this year,” Ritchie said. “It’s nice to finish with a nationals win. I’ve never won before and I’m excited for what next year holds.”

U.S. nationals continue Tuesday with the men’s giant slalom at Aspen Highlands. Officially speaking, spectators are not permitted at the venue due to COVID-19 safety protocols. Highlands closed for the public ski season on Sunday.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

U.S. Alpine Championships start Monday at a spectator-free Aspen Highlands

A lone groomer works on Thunderbowl on Friday, April 2, 2021, ahead of the closing weekend at Aspen Highlands. The ski area will host the 2021 U.S. Alpine Championships beginning Monday.
Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

With Aspen Highlands closing for the season Sunday — again sans the usual party — opening day for the U.S. Alpine National Championships is knocking on the door. The popular locals’ hill is set to host some of the country’s top ski racers the next two weeks in a low-key end to the competitive season.

“A lot of people are kind of running on fumes, but we are all psyched to see high-level racing,” said Johno McBride, the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club’s alpine director and a longtime national team coach. “It’s also important for us to showcase the venue. That speaks volumes. It’s a great venue.”

The Stapleton Training Center at Highlands, which is operated by AVSC, will provide the main tracks for the skiers at U.S. nationals. The local club is in charge of on-hill maintenance and course setup and a small handful of its more advanced athletes will even get the opportunity to compete.

“We are doing everything on the ground,” McBride said. “We are building starts and setting up all the B-net and working with the cat drivers to build the terrain. We are going to be the guys throwing salt. We are going to be the guys maintaining the course.”

This will be the second U.S. national championship this winter, as the 2020 event was pushed back from last spring because of the pandemic to just before the start of this season. Among the national champions from those races at Copper Mountain earlier this winter was former AVSC athlete Alice McKennis Duran; she is out with injury and won’t compete in Aspen.

The national championships feature a smorgasbord of talent, from current World Cup ski racers and possible A team members, to high-level junior racers hoping to make a splash and possibly earn a spot on the U.S. ski team for next season.

Stars like Mikaela Shiffrin and Travis Ganong are not expected to compete, but a few other big names, such as Nina O’Brien, could very well race, according to skiracing.com.

A skier competes at the 2020 U.S. Alpine National Championships earlier this winter at Copper Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

“People take it pretty seriously,” McBride said. “It depends just a lot on the individuals. There are a lot of high-level racers that every time they get in the starting gate, they are racing. I would say for sure for the younger athletes who have qualified to be at the U.S. nationals, they are going to treat it pretty seriously because they are great opportunities for them.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, spectators aren’t allowed at Highlands during the races, which start Monday with the men’s slalom. There is almost daily racing through the April 16 women’s slalom that will close out the competitive ski season.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

A fight for flights: Women’s Nordic combined moves closer to Olympics

Ski Jumper Annikla Malacinski lunches off the HS75 ski jump at Howelsen Hill during the 2021 USA Nordic Championships special jumping team event. Malacinski and teammates Alexa Brabec and Annika Belshaw topped the women's field to win the title. The pair and teammate Tess Arnone took part in the first-ever women’s World Cup season this winter, a huge step towards getting the sport into the Olympics. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There is but one sport standing in the way of gender equality at the Winter Olympics: Nordic combined. Every other sport features men and women, but Nordic combined, a sport that combines ski jumping and Nordic skiing, is only available to men — at least for now.

The sport debuted at the World Cup level and in the world championships this year, the latest benchmarks toward the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) goal to get the sport in the 2026 Winter Olympics.

“We’ve done the most important thing that we needed to do, especially given the challenges of this season with COVID,” said USA Nordic Executive Director Billy Demong. “That is, we checked the box of World Cup and we checked the box of world championships. Those are two of the big strategic hurdles in further developing the sport.”

The rapid growth of the sport around the world is a positive sign the Olympic goal will be realized when the IOC meets in 2022, but the increase in competition also puts pressure on the U.S. national team to keep up with the strong European contenders.

“I am very confident that the sport is ready, the nations, the athletes, both men and women,” Demong said. “The teams are all geared up and expecting that this will be added to the 2026 program and truly bring gender equity to the games.”

A short, speedy history

When women’s ski jumping was added to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, it left Nordic combined as the only sport without women. That same year, the sport was implemented into the FIS Youth Cup system. Two years later, in 2016, FIS published a women’s Nordic combined strategy. The first few years of the plan involved building the youth programs, the feeding tubes to the larger national programs.

The long-term strategy estimated the first women’s Continental Cup event in 2018, involvement in the Junior World Championships and Youth Olympic Games and the first World Cup series in 2020-21. So far, that’s all happened right on schedule.

The pandemic hacked away at the inaugural women’s World Cup season this winter, leaving the skiers with one competition and the world championships. Nevertheless, the historic season still happened and is officially in the books.

“I hope we as women can have more opportunities as the men to have more World Cups and more events,” said Steamboat Springs native and U.S. national team member Annika Malacinski. “This year knowing most of our events were canceled. In that sense, it was really hard. I’m happy that I found this community and that I fell in love with the sport and I hope that we can get more support in women’s Nordic combined.”

U.S. national team member Tara Geraghty-Moats won the first World Cup event and finished fifth in the world championships, earning her the No. 1 overall spot in the World Cup standings.

Steamboat has played a role in growing the sport as Howelsen Hill hosted the first Continental Cup event for women in 2018. Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers and national team members Tess Arnone and Alexa Brabec represented Steamboat and the USA in the sport’s debut at the Youth Olympic Games in 2020.

Steamboat Springs Tess Arnone competes at the 2021 USA Junior National Championships team event in Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell)

“I’m super proud that we’re a part of it and have girls participating,” said Todd Wilson, SSWSC Nordic combined program director. “We’re kind of the center of Nordic combined for sure in the country. It’s great to see the participation that we have. It’s exciting to see which of these girls can latch on to those opportunities.”

Now the timeline includes expanding the sport and including a mixed-gender team event in the 2023 world championships.

Hopefully, the 2021-22 season looks more like this season was intended to, with more events in the Continental Cup and World Cup circuits.

The original plan for the sport was to be in the Olympics by 2022. However, FIS altered that goal and now aims for 2026.

“They just want to make sure they’re taking the proper steps and there is growth at every step,” Wilson said. “I think they paused to say no, we need a little more time to develop this. … I think they’ve done a nice job of saying not quite yet.”

For young athletes like Arnone, Brabec and Malacinski, the push to 2026 could make a huge difference in their readiness to perform on the world’s biggest athletic stage.

Annika Malacinski. left, greets teammate Alexa Brabec at the finish line of the USA JUnior National Championships after winning the Nordic combined team sprint event.

“It’s disappointing coming into an Olympic year (in 2022), that men (can compete in) it but women can’t. It’s really frustrating looking at it from that point of view,” Malacinski said. “But the Olympics have always been a huge dream of mine. … 2026 seems like a lot of years, but I’m confident that’s where I want to head to and I’m just going to try to work my hardest and have my best results coming into that 2026 year. I’m really hoping FIS makes it work.”

Propelling the sport forward

USA Nordic now has the three-fold task of keeping Geraghty-Moats on top, pushing the three Steamboat women to the next level and working with clubs nationwide to encourage young girls to pick up and get excited about the sport.

That’s all easier said than done.

Geraghty-Moats is already wary of whether the U.S. can keep up with the resources of the European teams.

“When teams like Germany and Austria and Norway have four coaches for their team and a physical therapist and two wax techs, it’s becoming very very hard for the U.S. women to compete at a high level and stay competitive,” she said in an interview in early March. “I’m hoping that will change in the coming years, because I think that’s going to be a roadblock for women’s Nordic combined very quickly.”

Right now, the women’s national team has one coach, in Tomas Matura. However, the women compete alongside the men at the same Continental or World Cup venue. That allows the USA Nordic men’s staff to assist Matura and the women’s team.

Demong is confident in the future of the program. The Olympian has spent the past decade helping build USA Nordic after U.S. Ski and Snowboard cut funding to ski jumping and Nordic combined. Resourcing everyone equitably will take time.

“I know we have the foundation. What we need to do is recognize that athletics at its core is a game of patience,” he said. “Having been to five Olympic games myself and part of an Olympic development pipeline that began in Steamboat Springs in the mid-1990s, I know how long that took to come to fruition.”

Demong said developing a sustainable pipeline is top of his priority list in regard to women’s Nordic combined.

In order to provide USA Nordic with new generations of athletes, clubs across the country have to foster excitement and involvement in young girls.

“It’s a matter of getting the sport to a level where there’s enough participation that once you do get it into the international scene, you want it to stay,” Wilson said. “It requires a commitment from a lot of countries to get this going at the grassroots level without any real funding. It’s relying on grassroots clubs like ours to get girls excited and get the numbers to a point where there’s consistency.”

That consistent growth is happening. Especially now that high-level events provide incentives for younger athletes to stick with the sport.

Courtesy International Ski Federation website.

According to a 2020 strategy update from FIS, there were 167 female athletes registered with a FIS code across all levels, up from 77 participants in 2015.

That same report noted participation in the Continental Cup grew from eight countries and 19 skiers in 2017-18, to 13 countries and 48 skiers in 2019-20. Even amid the pandemic, that participation rate held steady at 44 skiers this year.

In order to foster a competitive sport, though, there has to be a pipeline of girls always working their way to that level and if history has anything to do with it, that pipeline will run right through Steamboat.

Courtesy International Ski Federation website.

“I don’t think that we’re so heavily resourced we can expect to win everything all of the time, right now,” Demong said. “But, I do think we have the platform that given some time and some fine tuning, we can be very competitive in every one of our disciplines.”

sreardon@steamboatpilot.com

Tour of Utah cycling race cancels 2021 event due to lingering virus concerns

Organizers have canceled the Tour of Utah, shown here in 2019, for the second consecutive year out of concern of the novel coronavirus. The Park City stage of the race is usually an especially busy day on the summer tourism calendar.​
Park Record file photo

PARK CITY, Utah — The organizers of the Tour of Utah cycling race, one of the largest events on the summertime tourism calendar in Park City, have canceled the event in 2021 out of concern for the continued spread of the novel coronavirus, the second consecutive year the event has been canceled based on worries about the pandemic.

In a statement, the chair of the tour, Steve Miller, said the organizers want the event to return in 2022.

“Due to the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and the Tour of Utah Ultimate Challenge are postponed in 2021. We continue to plan for resuming these events in 2022,” Miller said.

The Tour of Utah, a stage race, covers a wide swath of northern Utah. Park City, though, has served as the finish line of the final stage. The race has drawn large crowds to Park City for the last day of the race, as spectators watch the cyclists leave Main St. at the start of the last stage and then return to the street later that day for the finish.

The event’s final day is typically timed for early August. In the past, the Tour of Utah stage in Park City has been scheduled within a short time of the Park City Kimball Art Festival, creating an especially busy stretch for the tourism industry.

The organizers in April of 2020 canceled that year’s edition of the Tour of Utah during the initial months of the pandemic. The cancellation was one of the early signals that the economic impacts of the coronavirus would stretch well into the summer after an early end to the 2019-2020 ski season.

The cancellation of the Tour of Utah in 2021 is more evidence that the economic impacts of the virus will last well into this year. The information from the race organizers follows several weeks after the Savor the Summit dining event on Main St. was canceled for 2021. It had been planned in June.

The state of the spread of the virus in the summer is the key unknown for event organizers. It is difficult to predict if there will be any restrictions on crowd sizes at the time the events are held later in 2021, as an example.

An event like the Tour of Utah, covering jurisdictions across a wide swath of the region, requires an especially involved planning and approval process. Organizers said the event in 2019 drew 400,000 spectators throughout the course.

citynews@parkrecord.com

Smith, Goth break Grand Traverse skimo course record in race’s return to Aspen

Idaho teammates Tom and Alex Steidler celebrate after crossing the finish line at the base of Shadow Mountain on Sunday, March 28, 2021, after finishing the Grand Traverse ski mountaineering race that goes from Crested Butte to Aspen. Crested Butte's Cam Smith and Utah's Tom Goth paired up to win.
Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Cam Smith’s bid for another course record looked a bit shaky last week after his original partner, Aspen legend John Gaston, had to withdraw because of injury.

No problem, as the Crested Butte athlete convinced his friend and national team cohort Tom Goth to hop into Sunday’s Grand Traverse ski mountaineering race last second as his new accomplice. The duo wasn’t phased by the circumstances, setting a new course record in the win and finishing more than an hour ahead of the second-place team.

“First thing, you feel for John, who obviously works so hard to train himself for these races, to not be able to do the event he was planning on,” Smith said. “It was definitely very stressful and anxiety provoking not knowing who I was racing with a couple of days before the event.”

Smith and Gaston — both national team members through the United States Ski Mountaineering Association — paired up to break the Power of Four skimo race record only three weeks prior. That daytime race takes athletes up and over the four Aspen ski mountains and is produced by Aspen Skiing Co.

The Grand Traverse is put on by Crested Butte Nordic and is a one-way trip from Crested Butte to Aspen that begins at midnight. Smith and Utah’s Goth crossed the finish line at the base of Aspen Mountain, near the Shadow Mountain lift, before the sun had even risen. Their time of 6 hours, 6 minutes and 24 seconds is officially a new course record.

“That goes a long way, having some experience with each other and knowing how you work together and your strengths and weaknesses,” said Smith, who has raced alongside Goth before, including in past Power of Four races. “Fortunately, Tom was willing to make a last-minute drive all the way from Utah over to jump in and join the party. He kind of joked about how this was the way to do it. He didn’t know he was racing until Thursday.”

Finishing second overall was Crested Butte’s Billy Laird and Jon Brown in 7:15:59. Laird and Brian Smith won the 2017 Power of Four skimo race, a year in which Gaston did not compete. Finishing third on Sunday was Norway’s Ola Jordheim and Steamboat’s Noel Keeffe in 7:39:40. Both are University of Utah skiers; Keeffe also is a member of the U.S. cross-country ski team.

The women’s title Sunday went to the Tory sisters, Sarah and Caroline, native Canadians who live in Aspen. They finished in 9:29:44. Hot on their heels were Crested Butte’s Molly Susla and Hanna Smith, who finished a spot back in 9:36:41. The third-place women’s team was Crested Butte’s Dana Kracaw and Emma Lohr, who came in with a time of 10:26:27.

Crested Butte’s Chris Edmonds and Stevie Kremer were the top co-ed finishers in 9:02:12.

“People really got rewarded by an extra special treatment this year with the full moon and the beautiful, clear skies and perfect conditions and nice snow on the descents,” Smith said. “It rewarded everyone that was bummed out about missing last year with an extra special night.”

Race conditions were nearly flawless this past weekend, with fast snow and clear skies, including an unusually bright moon to light the way. It was somewhat of a gift for the racers, considering the 2020 Grand Traverse had been canceled last spring because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Power of Four and Grand Traverse races were the highlight of the season for Smith, who like Gaston and Goth often spends a lot of the winter competing in World Cup races in Europe. Because of the pandemic, the only American to have competed overseas this winter in skimo was Summit County teen Grace Staberg.

“It feels great to have had a successful race at both,” Smith said. “That will be what I hang my hat on for this season. I think it’s time to go enjoy some spring skiing.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Chris Corning wins bronze at season’s final snowboard slopestyle World Cup

Canada's Liam Brearley (left), Norway's Marcus Kleveland (center), and U.S. Snowboard Team member Chris Corning (right) stand on the podium at the FIS World Cup Slopestyle Finals in Silvaplana, Switzerland.
Photo by Mateusz Kielpinski/FIS

FRISCO — Chris Corning won bronze in Sunday’s final snowboard slopestyle World Cup of the season in Silvaplana, Switzerland.

Corning, a 21-year-old and seven-time International Ski & Snowboard Federation crystal globe winner, closed out his season to bottle up momentum and confidence heading into the offseason ahead of the remainder of the 2022 Winter Olympic qualifying process. Corning’s third-place finish was his first podium of the season during a winter where the quantity of contests have been limited in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corning, a former Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club athlete, compared Sunday’s bronze at the Swiss World Cup to previous contests in his career, including the bronze he took at X Games Norway and wins at Czech Republic and New Zealand World Cups, which helped him build momentum heading into extended time away from competition.

“This means a lot for me to be able to finish off the season doing well,” Corning said. “Any time I’ve come off of a good last contest the other years, I’ve done well the next year after that.”

Corning earned his spot on the podium with a finals run scored at 83.25, the highest American score on the day, behind Norwegian champion Marcus Kleveland (96.00) and runner-up Liam Brearley of Canada (89.00). The goofy-footed Corning earned the score with a cab — riding right foot forward and rotating to his board’s front side — 180 onto a down-flat-down rail before executing a front boardslide with a 270-degree rotation off the rail. Corning then landed an alley-oop 360 on the quarterpipe before a 180 onto a flat rail and switch backside 360-degree rotation off the rail.

On the course’s three jumps, Corning landed a cab 1260-degree rotation with a nose grab before rotating flat frontside for 1440 degrees with a melon grab on the next jump. On the final and largest jump, 80 feet from takeoff to landing, Corning again rotated 1440 degrees with a melon grab, this time to his board’s back side and with three corked rotations.

Colorado's Chris Corning competes in the men's snowboard slopestyle qualifier of the U.S. Grand Prix and World Cup on Friday, March 19, 2021, at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

On the course’s final feature, a banana rail, Corning landed a rodeo flip rotating to his board’s back side while grabbing the nose. Corning felt the judges rewarded him for his smooth run with solid landings where he didn’t put his hands down on the snow.

The 2018 Olympian said his slopestyle run is becoming more consistent than it’s ever been. The familiarity with his tricks, Corning said, is enabling him now to toy with what kind of grabs he can add to the tricks to pick up extra points at contests next season.

In the lead up to the Olympics, Corning said top international competitors like him will likely go back to the drawing board to try to take down Kleveland, who has become the top dog in a loaded global field this abbreviated season. Kleveland landed a frontside 1440 and backside and cab 1620s to win Sunday.

Corning said he expects slopestyle in the next year will progress to the point where top-scoring riders will need to land 1620s or 1800s in competition to contend with Kleveland. Corning was part of a next-level X Games Aspen big air contest earlier this winter where he landed multiple 1800s with Kleveland and other top riders.

“We know he’s got more, too,” Corning said. “It’s pretty gnarly. We need to figure out what he’s doing and try to get close to him so we have something to bring to the Olympics and contests.”

At the world championships and Grand Prix Olympic qualifier earlier this month in Aspen, Corning went for his quad-cork 1800 on smaller slopestyle jumps, but wasn’t able to get the fourth and final inversion around.

Colorado’s Chris Corning celebrates his podium finish in Sunday’s men’s snowboard slopestyle contest in Silvaplana, Switzerland.
Photo by Kevin Westenbarger/U.S. Ski & Snowboard

“Big air is pushing (slopestyle) a lot faster than it would be without big air,” Corning said. “It’s going to be, ‘Learn these tricks, then put it in your slope run.’”

Sunday’s podium helped Corning in the World Snowboard points list standings, but the event was not an official qualifier for the American 2022 Olympic team, which in February will take four riders from a deep roster to China.

Corning was the fifth highest-scoring American at the Aspen Olympic slopestyle qualifier, behind overall runner-up Red Gerard of Silverthorne and teammates Dusty Henricksen, Judd Henkes and Brock Crouch. In Switzerland on Sunday, Corning finished ahead of Henricksen (fifth) and Crouch (sixth), who were the only other Americans to make finals. Slopestyle qualifiers determine which Americans will represent the country in both slopestyle and big air at the Olympics.

Corning will attend the U.S. snowboard team’s camp at Mammoth Mountain in California in May. When Olympic qualifiers resume early next winter, Corning’s goal is to be the top American at each qualifier.

“Last (Olympic qualifying process) I just wanted to beat the Americans at every contest I went to, because if you can do that you have a good chance in going,” Corning said.

aolivero@summitdaily.com

Results: Aspen-Snowmass Town Race Series Slalom 3 from March 25, 2021


Aspen-Snowmass Town Race Series

Individual Race Results by Division

Adv Slalom 3 — 3/25/2021

Bib#—Racer—Team—1st Run—2nd Run—Combined—Points

Girls

415—Collins, Chloe—Hamilton Sports—32.99—34.86—1:07.85—100

416—Fuller, Ellie—54.45—59.23—1:53.68—80

Women

634—Tait-Jamieson, Lucie—KSPN—28.22—27.60—0:55.82—100

402—Rebeiz, Carly—S&S Construction—34.49—33.37—1:07.86—80

99—Lindsay, Cindy—BOOTech—35.15—37.41—1:12.56—60

Boys

407—Hurley, Patrick—Hamilton Sports—34.87—32.58—1:07.45—100

149—Dwyer, Alexander—36.46—37.49—1:13.95—80

411—Strickland, Skyler—S&S Construction—52.76—48.40—1:41.16—60

80+

46—Rainer, Eddie—Hamilton Sports—33.37—33.26—1:06.63—100

70+

2—Tower, Chuck—S&S Construction—32.91—33.21—1:06.12—100

429—Amory, David—34.87—36.03—1:10.90—80

424—Rom, Doctor Bill—KSPN—44.43—42.25—1:26.68—60

60+

453—Itin, Tim—S&S Construction—27.78—28.65—0:56.43—100

5—Maple, Mike—S&S Construction—28.01—28.56—0:56.57—80

81—Zamansky, David—BOOTech—30.98—32.93—1:03.91—60

66—Lindsay, Jim—BOOTech—33.52—33.23—1:06.75—55

421—Kortschak, Walter—34.57—35.29—1:09.86—51

21—Mills, Tim—BOOTech—35.20—36.17—1:11.37—47

20—Handwerk, Jeff—36.48—37.29—1:13.77—43

91—Kennedy, Tom—KSPN—37.70—38.31—1:16.01—40

50+

8—Strickland, Scott—S&S Construction—27.23—27.23—0:54.46—100

27—Sturt, David—Hamilton Sports—29.49—30.30—0:59.79—80

443—Ross, Matt—S&S Construction—30.45—30.56—1:01.01—60

4—Payne, Michael—Timberline Bank—33.27—33.18—1:06.45—55

445—Siegel, Victor—KSPN—48.20—47.31—1:35.51—51

450—Rebeiz, Alex—34.79—DSQ—0.00—0

40+

92—Williams, JT—S&S Construction—26.42—26.97—0:53.39—100

440—Mahoney, Derrick—BOOTech—32.32—34.44—1:06.76—80

430—Fuller, Miles—31.71—DSQ—0.00—0

Mens Advanced

34—Centofanti, Steve—Hamilton Sports—30.62—30.26—1:00.88—100

428—Hahn, Brad—Hamilton Sports—32.11—31.43—1:03.54—80

Snowboard Women

448—Busch, Amanda Rae—Hamilton Sports—42.20—42.88—1:25.08—100

Snowboard Men

452—Gilmour, John—Timberline Bank—43.40—45.98—1:29.38—100

410—Everson, Gray—KSPN—50.82—48.23—1:39.05—80

TEAM RACE RESULTS

Adv Slalom 3

Team—Points

S&S Construction—300

Hamilton Sports—300

KSPN—240

BOOTech—200

Timberline Bank—155

CUMULATIVE RACE RESULTS BY DIVISION (FINAL SEASON STANDINGS)

Bib#—Team—All—GS+SL (race participation)—Points

Girls

415—Collins, Chloe—Hamilton Sports—4—4—340

416—Fuller, Ellie—3—3—207

417—Fuller, Sienna—2—2—180

604—Osborne, Tessa—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—100

623—Ettlinger, Sienna—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—100

606—Carlson, Sofia—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—60

624—Osborne, Lyla—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—55

622—Lutz-Sladdin, Caleah—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—51

605—Phillips, Devin—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—0

Young Adult Women

412—Francis, Annabelle—A Mixed Bag—4—4—300

615—Cornelius, Ally—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—100

414—Fuller, Savannah —1—1—100

413—Roy, Mykenzie—KSPN—1—1—80

608—Valentini, Maria Teresa—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—80

405—Hopkinson, Macy—Bonnie`s Babes—1—1—60

466—Kenny, Darienne—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—55

607—Kroeger, Rocksy—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—51

465—Frisch, Quintessa—Team AVSC Boys—1—1—47

609—Silvay, Elizabeth—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—43

171—Nichols, Annika—Bonnie`s Babes—1—1—0

600—Sage, Piper—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—0

601—Hicks, Maddie—Team AVSC Girls—1—1—0

Women

634—Tait-Jamieson, Lucie—KSPN—6—6—560

402—Rebeiz, Carly—S&S Construction—6—6—374

99—Lindsay, Cindy—BOOTech—6—6—328

446—Tait-Jamieson, Emilie—ASC S3—2—2—200

133—Milelli, Tanya—BOOTech—3—3—166

152—Lussan, Kelly—Hamilton Sports—2—2—135

630—Scott, Lucy—A Mixed Bag—2—2—102

95—Weier, Jennifer—BOOTech—1—1—80

433—Douglass, Linzhi—1—1—60

Boys

407—Hurley, Patrick—Hamilton Sports—6—6—560

149—Dwyer, Alexander—4—4—280

408—Down, Jake—2—2—180

411—Strickland, Skyler—S&S Construction—2—2—140

718—Merjos, Tommy—A Mixed Bag—2—2—111

409—Down, Tommy—2—2—110

612—Stokes, Jimmy—Team AVSC Boys—1—1—100

602—Eydenberg, Graham—Team AVSC Boys—1—1—55

Young Adult Men

632—Schille, Jaden—S&S Construction—3—3—260

614—Cromer, Greyson—Hamilton Sports—1—1—100

618—Lewis, Miko—Team AVSC Boys—1—1—80

617—Kendrick, Parker—Team AVSC Boys—1—1—55

613—Smalls, Luka—Team AVSC Boys—1—1—51

616—Hutto, Fletcher—Team AVSC Boys—1—1—0

611—Robinson, Thomis—Team AVSC Boys—1—1—0

610—Hutto, Sawyer—Team AVSC Boys—1—1—0

80+

46—Rainer, Eddie—Hamilton Sports—5—5—400

80—Houot, Jacques—Timberline Bank—2—2—180

70+

2—Tower, Chuck—S&S Construction—6—6—600

429—Amory, David—6—6—400

424—Rom, Doctor Bill—KSPN—6—6—375

50—Patten, Terry—Timberline Bank—1—1—60

60+

453—Itin, Tim—S&S Construction—6—6—560

5—Maple, Mike—S&S Construction—5—5—440

66—Lindsay, Jim—BOOTech—6—6—315

81—Zamansky, David—BOOTech—5—5—300

21—Mills, Tim—BOOTech—6—6—248

434—Douglass, J. Ross—5—5—240

91—Kennedy, Tom—KSPN—6—6—219

20—Handwerk, Jeff—6—6—213

9—Hemphill, Arlan—BOOTech—5—5—161

421—Kortschak, Walter—3—3—131

52—Prinster, Michael—Hamilton Sports—2—2—106

621—Munk, Anthony—1—1—80

6—Popinchalk, Joey—Timberline Bank—1—1—47

18—Henley, Steve—Timberline Bank—1—1—43

50+

8—Strickland, Scott—S&S Construction—6—6—480

27—Sturt, David—Hamilton Sports—6—6—371

4—Payne, Michael—Timberline Bank—6—6—340

631—Schille, John—S&S Construction—3—3—190

450—Rebeiz, Alex—6—6—189

49—Madsen, Bill—BOOTech—3—3—160

39—Tomcich, Bill—Timberline Bank—3—3—150

435—McBride, Pete—A Mixed Bag—2—2—140

445—Siegel, Victor—KSPN—4—4—139

443—Ross, Matt—S&S Construction—2—2—115

447—Saunders, Randall—1—1—55

40+

92—Williams, JT—S&S Construction—5—5—500

440—Mahoney, Derrick—BOOTech—4—4—295

430—Fuller, Miles —5—5—280

154—Ballou, Jonathan—BOOTech—1—1—80

61—Fogg, Joshua—BOOTech—1—1—80

444—Acquavella, Alex—A Mixed Bag—1—1—80

57—Britt, Mike—Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol—1—1—0

30+

720—Maisey, Ewan—ASC Race Department—1—1—100

620—Moore, Emerson—A Mixed Bag—1—1—100

20+

437—Ruttenberg, Jacob—A Mixed Bag—2—2—100

Mens Advanced

34—Centofanti, Steve—Hamilton Sports—6—6—402

428—Hahn, Brad—Hamilton Sports—3—3—215

439—Cafe, Tim—A Mixed Bag—2—2—200

98—Nevins, Austin—S&S Construction—2—2—200

719—Wylie, Andrew—A Mixed Bag—2—2—160

280—Major, Victor—A Mixed Bag—2—2—140

181—Campbell, Julian—Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol—3—3—98

484—Down, Jacob—1—1—80

636—Gastaldi, Sebastiano—S&S Construction—1—1—80

629—Maher, James—A Mixed Bag—1—1—51

Snowboard Women

448—Busch, Amanda Rae—Hamilton Sports—4—4—400

Snowboard Men

410—Everson, Gray—KSPN—5—5—480

452—Gilmour, John—Timberline Bank—2—2—200

CUMULATIVE TEAM RACE RESULTS (FINAL SEASON STANDINGS)

Team—Points

S&S Construction—1,800

Hamilton Sports—1,680

KSPN—1,475

BOOTech—1,230

A Mixed Bag—1,000

Timberline Bank—934

Team AVSC Girls—486

Team AVSC Boys—235

ASC S3—200

ASC Race Department—100

Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol—98

Bonnie`s Babes—60