Athlete spotlight: Katie Ryan
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
There are two people to go before I race, and my feet are still jammed in a snow bank. I’m desperately trying to keep my ski boots from getting too soft because it’s 75 degrees at the start of the day’s downhill.
Because of the warm weather, there was a severe lack of snow on Le Massif – the host mountain for this year’s NorAm Finals in Quebec. The dirt patches littering the pitch had posed a problem, and the start of the downhill was forced to move halfway down the run. Finals typically consist of all four events but unfortunately, all but the slalom and half a women’s downhill ended up being canceled. Spring had sprung – to say the least.
Our motel in Quebec was on the side of a highway with a 15-minute drive from anything. We had one television channel and limited Internet. During that week of waiting for races, I would have gotten very bored if not for the company of nine other girls.
The U.S. Ski Team is a family in many respects. We love, lean on and call each other out while always wishing one another well. This year being my first on the team, I’m now able to put legendary names to faces and, better yet, personalities.
You would think that the competitiveness would be consuming, but no. While it’s important to be the baddest bitch on the hill, there’s no reason to carry that persona with you all the time. We are such a unique group of women on relatively the same life plan, so how could we not become friends along the way?
By the time you read this, I will most likely be racing U.S. Alpine Championships in Winter Park. I hope to defend my junior national title in super G, which takes place March 30th. After nationals, I go straight into the Rocky Spring Series, making for nine races in 11 days. It’s rapid-fire racing from here on out – I’ll end my season April 7 with 51 starts and 150-plus days on the snow.
With a slew of new connections, friends and sisters made over the course of the season, I’m bummed the racing is coming to an end so soon. The world of ski racing is a small one, and the more I become involved the more it will become solid ground for me to stand on.
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Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.