Best and worst of pro ski frenzy
It was the best of days and the worst of days as the pro ski circus came to Heavenly over the weekend. The GS race Friday on the World Cup race course was held under a benevolent sun, while Saturday’s slalom test was held in what can be charitably be called a raging blizzard.
The weather was so bad for the women’s slalom that Fox didn’t even break out the TV cameras.
The women’s slalom was won by Andreja Rojs of Slovenia for her first victory of the season. She defeated Austrian Birgit Hussauf and picked up $2,250 in the process. In the consolation bracket, American Heather Flood, fresh from the Olympics, outskied Ophelle Racz-David of France for third place.
In the men’s slalom held under the lights on World Cup in the early evening, Swiss vet Jakob Rhyner ($4,300) edged American Erik Schlopy ($3,300) with Max Ancenay ($2,000) of France grabbing third place over Eric Anderson of Sweden.
In an innovation, Heavenly celebrated the event with fireworks amid swirling snow.
The Friday events were crowd-pleasers with Austrian Sebastian Vitzthum ($4,300) barely nosing out countryman Hans Hofer ($3,300), current pro tour leader, in the men’s GS, with France’s Isabelle Fabre ($2,520) outskiing 11-year pro-tour veteran Hussauf ($1,860).
Michel Lucatelli of France was third in the GS for $2,000 as he beat Max Ancenay ($1,400). Current tour leader Romanian Mihaela Fera-Egan took third ($1,200) by outracing former tour leader Camilla Lundback ($900) of Sweden.
In what was probably the most interesting race Friday, Vitzthum was narrowly edged in the first run of the dual format by Hofer by a mere .024 seconds. The racers switched courses for the second run and Hofer led down the rutted course of soft snow.
But in a brilliant use of tactics, Vitzthum used a very deep rut on a left- hand turn at the finish to launch him across the finish line first by .070 seconds.
“I knew that the turn on the last gate would give me a chance to spring to the finish line,” Vitzthum said after the race. “I had to stay close and then go for it at the last turn and it worked.”
With the women’s GS, Fabre also had to come from behind after losing the first run to Hussauf by .076 seconds. On the second run, she flashed down the course and beat Hussauf by .854 and move into second place in the tour standings.
The second-best finish by Schlopy was the best the American has done on the pro tour. A good crowd of spectators cheered Schlopy on and he responded. “These people helped me, the American said; “this was my best slalom ever.”
Fox television will present the Heavenly pro race March 1.
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