Aspen-raised skier Jeanette Saylor impresses at world masters
Jeanette Saylor quit ski racing when she was 21 and thought that was the end. Three decades later she returned to the slopes and is finding success she never thought possible.
“I just wanted to go have fun and run gates and I just wanted to see if I liked it anymore,” Saylor said. “I just wanted to be the best I could be.”
Saylor, now 62, has won the women’s master’s national downhill title multiple times, including this past winter. She also won the overall NASTAR title in 2010 that came with a free trip to Chile to train with the U.S. Ski Team, which she called “the trip of a lifetime.”
Then, even after all that, Saylor found a way to one-up herself by dominating at the FIS World Criterium National Masters event last month in Big Sky, Montana. She won the slalom, giant slalom and super-G for her age group and was in the mix for the overall master’s title in each discipline, which puts her against women nearly 40 years younger.
“It’s just a big group of old people trying to be fast in speed suits,” Saylor joked. “I was super happy. Then to be really close to some of the young girls, too, that was super exciting.”
Saylor, a native of Canada, moved to Aspen in 1971 and spent her teen years learning to ski in the Roaring Fork Valley. After high school, she returned to Canada to pursue a career as a professional ski racer and spent time on the Canadian national team. However, being a Canadian citizen but still officially living in the United States — her parents still live in Aspen — left her politically unaffiliated in most cases and drove her away from the sport.
Saylor, who was Jeanette Zanier in her glory days as a ski racer, now lives in Frisco with her family and lived a relatively normal life away from the limelight until she returned to ski racing about 10 years ago.
“I started ski racing in the business league here at Copper. Then that turned into maybe I’ll try a master’s race. Then it went on from there,” Saylor said. “Now I’m having a lot of fun and staying in really good shape.”
Considering the age difference of some of the women she is competing against on the world stage, Saylor’s results are impressive. At world master’s in Montana, she finished second overall regardless of age group in the March 21 super-G and was third overall in the March 22 giant slalom. She was sixth overall in the March 20 slalom.
Saylor, who trains with Ron Emery of Colorado Alpine Masters, has plans to again compete at master’s nationals next year in Mammoth, California, but will likely skip out on worlds in 2019 as it will take place in France.
“I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, and probably more, because I didn’t expect to win my slalom, because I’m a downhiller,” Saylor said of 2018 worlds. “It was very exciting for me and I’m just going to keep going.”