Divas rule the slopes | AspenTimes.com

Divas rule the slopes

Jon Maletz
Members of Aspen's Team Diva practice Tuesday for the Aspen World Synchro Championship 2006, which will take place Thursday on Aspen Mountain. The team includes Kelly Beairsto, Genevieve Bell, Karina Alder, Jemma Hunt, Jill Dorken, Jodie Sampson, Jeanne Buck, Jenny MacArthur, Georgie Bremner, Megan Harvey and Sarah Liddell, along with coaches Stephanie Brown and Matt Price. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Georgie Bremner and a group of her fellow Aspen/Snowmass ski instructors stood out Tuesday on the slopes of Ajax. It was impossible not to.Maybe it was their matching blue ski jackets, or their snow pants, which have “Hooters” written on the left leg. “It causes a stir,” Bremner said with a laugh. “People ask us if we’re the Hooters girls.”More likely, it was the group’s movements that drew curious and intrigued stares from onlookers. Aspen’s Team Diva – a synchronized skiing group with 11 female athletes and two coaches – is hoping to continue to pique the public’s interest this week. The team is hosting the Aspen World Synchro Championships on Ajax’s North American trail today and Thursday.Six ski teams – and a snowboarding squad – will ascend to Ajax Mountain this week. Aspen is serving as host for the event, which has drawn teams from Germany and Turkey in years past, for a fifth time.

Every member of the team, which consists of instructors from the U.S., New Zealand, Argentina and Canada, has logged considerable time teaching the sport across the globe. Bremner has taught in five countries and plans on heading back to New Zealand for winter in the Southern Hemisphere.”You start looking at things to keep yourself entertained in the industry,” Bremner said. “Some of us do Powder 8s and big mountain events. This is another outlet to get disciplined with skiing and to continue to improve and push the envelope.”Planning is everything. Before the Divas even step into their skis, they line up and map out the formation from start to finish. The attention to detail minimizes doubt and uncertainty for the eight skiers who ski at one time. During competition Thursday, judges will score a team’s four runs on synchronization, skiing technique, overall appearance and degree of difficulty.The team trains on Little Nell two times a week, perfecting its newest formations for two hours after the lifts close to the public. The more they train together, Bremner said, the more they develop a level of comfort with one another.

Bremner, a former synchro skier for a Steamboat-based co-ed team, said she was drawn to the Divas because of the camaraderie and the high caliber of skiing. She’s been skiing alongside four other Divas for four straight seasons. “In some of these maneuvers, you ski close to somebody, so you need a lot of trust,” Bremner said. “If you don’t have it, somebody will bail out or not get as close as they have to and the team loses syncronicity.” While they won’t incorporate the 270-meter-long course’s modest jump into their routines, the Divas will show off an variety of formations. They are planning to form the shape of a diamond and a box during two of their four passes as well as one called “Wings.” Every team is required to perform the “school figure,” which incorporates an array of short, medium and wide turns. The Divas have experienced success in years past. They finished first among women’s teams in 2004, tied for first in 2003 and were second last year. While they covet a return to the top of the women’s podium, this group has a more ambitious goal. The Divas are doing their part to help restore the sport to its former glory.

Synchro skiing, which has been as part of U.S. ski school programs for more than 70 years, gained its strongest popularity after 1988’s Battle of the Ski Schools in Vail. The event remained in Vail until 2000 before moving to Whistler, British Columbia.After the end of Vail’s annual competition, the popularity of the sport dwindled, Bremner said. The Divas took advantage of the opportunity to pick up the event.With more interest from sponsors, as well as teams in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, the future is promising. Those fans who stake out a spot on the Bonnie’s Restaurant deck Thursday are in for a treat.”There’s good music, and it’s a great day to hang out and drink a bottle of wine,” Bremner said. “This truly is a spectator sport.” Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com