Aspen’s Wardle eyeing World Cup circuit
Entering only her second year on the U.S. Ski Team, Galena Wardle already has her sights firmly set on her next step. After winning her first national championship in March, the 18-year-old Aspen native hopes to be fully entrenched in the FIS Alpine World Cup circuit sooner than later.
“There is always that possibility for this year, too. But I definitely want to within the next two years,” Wardle said in an interview with The Aspen Times last week. “First and second gets you a spot in the World Cup for the next season, so I’m just looking to really attack the Nor-Am circuit and try to get the title at the end of the year.”
Wardle, an Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club alumna, was a member of the U.S. development team last season. Competing predominantly on the European Cup and the Nor-Am Cup, her season reached its peak when she won the Alpine combined title at the National Championships, held at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho.
A strong, well-rounded skier, Wardle finished fifth overall in slalom for the Nor-Am Cup. She was ninth overall, also finishing in the top 12 overall in the downhill, super-G and combined.
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“It was awesome. I hadn’t expected it at all going into that,” Wardle said of winning the national championship in March. “I was skiing well toward the end of the season there, and it brought my points down quite a bit.”
This season, Wardle will be part of the C Team, a subtle yet confidence-boosting promotion within the U.S. Ski Team. The competition circuit will largely remain the same for Wardle, but she admits the added funding and prestige that comes with the move up will make getting to the World Cup level that much more of a possibility.
“She had a good summer of training and she is surrounded by a really great group of girls,” said Paul Kristofic, head coach of the U.S. women’s Alpine ski team, about Wardle in an interview with The Aspen Times last month. “Her big goals this year would be to be successful in podiums in Nor-Am events and the Europa Cup events and show she can be competitive with her peers. She is an exciting junior racer.”
While Park City and various airports across North America and Europe have become home, Wardle still finds time to make it back to the Roaring Fork Valley. Her parents have long worked for Aspen Skiing Co.
Having spent much of her youth skiing on Aspen Mountain, Wardle can’t help but be excited for the arrival of the FIS World Cup Finals in Aspen later this winter. She has competed in Aspen before, taking third in a FIS super-G race in April at Aspen Highlands and she landed a trio of top 10s at a Nor-Am event on Ajax in March, and dreams of getting to race in a World Cup event on her home mountain some day.
“I grew up skiing on that hill. It’s one of the best hills, I think,” Wardle said of Aspen Mountain. “It’s difficult. So we’ll see. Maybe I’ll get a chance to race it. It will be really cool to see that, to see great World Cup racers skiing down that hill.”
Wardle, along with most of the U.S. Ski Team, will get her season going this month at Copper Mountain before likely heading to Lake Louise in Canada in early December.
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