Speedy Woods qualifies for Jr. Olympics
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Alpine racer Elizabeth Woods, daughter of Jeff and Julie Ann Woods of Snowmass Village, has qualified for the National J-2 Junior Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., next month.
It’s the first time in at least a decade that the USSA has held a head-to-head national competition for the top J-2 racers in the country rather than regional contests.
The 15-year-old Woods will compete with roughly 40 other 15- and 16-year-old girls in the J-2 age group.
She is the No. 1 downhiller in the country and No. 2 in super G among girls born in 1988, according to FIS rankings released this week. She’s ranked No. 3 in downhill among J-2 girls, born in ’87 and ’88.
A sophomore at the Crested Butte Academy, Woods trains and attends classes away from home, and has been posting some impressive times in Rocky Mountain Trophy Series races this season.
“Right now, I guess I’m best at downhill, but I’ve been doing really well in super G also,” said Woods, who also competes in slalom and giant slalom.
The National Junior Olympics includes all four disciplines at Whiteface Mountain. Up-and-coming racers will be getting a close look from the U.S. Ski Team at the competition and winners will be invited to participate in national development programs.
Potential backers will be watching, too, noted Woods, who has been sponsored by Rossignol for the past few years.
“I’m very excited. If you do well there, the U.S. Ski Team will watch,” she said. “I’m aiming for the U.S. Ski Team and racing on the World Cup circuit.”
And, of course, she’s hoping for a shot at the U.S. Olympic Team.
Last year, Woods was selected to attend a U.S. Ski Team camp at Lake Placid, but she blew the ACL in her right leg while training in January, ending her season before the camp began.
She got back on snow in Montana in June, then raced in New Zealand last August, bouncing back into form quickly.
Her race results in New Zealand were good enough to land Woods in the Rocky Mountain Trophy Series as a walk-on.
“After her injury, we weren’t sure she’d be able to get back in the game,” said her mom, Julie Ann. “I’m really excited about this.”
Woods has been racing since age 5, mastering the slopes of Winter Park when her family resided in Denver.
Her 14-year-old brother, Tim, attends the Crested Butte Academy, as well. He’ll be racing in the Junior Olympics at Winter Park in March as a J-3, while Elizabeth heads to the national event, March 5-11.
Dad will head to Lake Placid with her, while Mom cheers on her brother in Winter Park. Jeff Woods is head of Aspen’s Parks Department, while Julie Ann Woods is the city’s community development director.
Looking cool is just the tip of the iceberg for Mikaela Shiffrin, Travis Ganong and the rest of the U.S. ski team when they debut new race suits at the world championships.