Aspen skier Galena Wardle again competing at junior world championships
Entering the alpine skiing World Junior Championships — which starts Wednesday in Are, Sweden — Aspen native Galena Wardle has more of something than in her first two worlds events.
“Confidence is a huge part of ski racing. It can make or break any run,” Wardle told The Aspen Times. “I’m glad to have confidence in my skiing, confidence in my ability, going into this.”
Wardle, 18, is in her second year on the U.S. Ski Team, having moved up to the C team this year from the developmental team. She competes mostly on the Nor-Am circuit, with an occasional FIS race in Europe.
The reigning combined national champion, Wardle was one of seven U.S. women named to the country’s junior worlds team this week. This is her third time competing in the event, which occurs every year in a different country.
“The first year I went I was a first year and one of the youngest ones there. I was getting experience and getting used to that stage,” Wardle said. “You get to be around all these countries in international competition. It’s super exciting. The World Championships in St. Moritz just happened, and it’s sort of like a junior version of that. For us, at least, it’s just as big of a deal.”
Wardle has had an up-and-down winter. She is currently ninth overall in the Nor-Am rankings, a list led by Canada’s Ali Nullmeyer and the U.S.’s Nina O’Brien. Wardle, a strong all-around skier, is 10th in combined, 12th in super-G and giant slalom, 16th in slalom and 19th in downhill.
She’ll compete in each of these events at junior worlds this week in Sweden. Her best previous worlds finish was taking sixth in combined last year in Sochi, Russia.
“I’d have one good run and then it would just be totally different the second run,” Wardle said, citing inconsistency as one of her main issues this season.
Wardle said a lot of her recent confidence comes from her best career win outside of last year’s combined national championship. On Jan. 27 in La Thuile, Italy, she took first in a giant slalom FIS race. Prior to her March 23 combined title at Sun Valley, Idaho, Wardle’s last major win came Jan 23, 2016, in a national junior race slalom in Pila-Gressan, Italy.
“Europe is always a hard trip because there is tough competition and tight races and to get a win in Europe was really special for me,” Wardle said of her recent win in Italy. “My skiing is in a good place. I hope the skiing shows and that I can ski fast. I’ve had some good results this year; some rough times, too. But the skiing is there.”
Wardle and O’Brien are the only two women from Colorado competing at junior worlds. U.S. men from Colorado include River Radamus (Edwards), Jett Seymour (Steamboat Springs) and Florian Szwebel (Avon).
The Junior World Championships in Are begin Wednesday with the men’s and women’s downhill races. The super-G races are Thursday, combined races Friday (women) and Saturday (men), women’s giant slalom and team events on Sunday, men’s giant slalom and women’s slalom on Monday, and finally the men’s slalom on Tuesday.
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The Aspen High School girls soccer team looks a lot different from the last time it played, with many new players and a new coaching staff. But winning has become part of the culture, and it’s so far, so good for the Skiers this spring.