Gianotti, Robertson keep on mastering slopes |

Gianotti, Robertson keep on mastering slopes

Steve Yingling

All they wanted was to say that they skied the women’s downhill course before the 2002 Winter Olympics.

But soft and unsafe snow conditions prevented South Shore’s John Gianotti and Rich Robertson from that wish during the U.S. National Masters Skiing Championships recently.

“We have no business running it, but we definitely would have given it a shot,” said Gianotti, who went on to win the downhill for 70- to 74-year-olds at the backup site in Park City, Utah.

“It would have been great to be on the Olympic downhill before the women actually ran it,” said Robertson, who came in fourth in the downhill for 60-64 masters.

For the past three decades, Robertson and Gianotti have made masters ski racing their winter and spring playground. They train almost daily at Heavenly Ski Resort, blending in with the foundation’s youth skiers.

“Training with the kids really helps,” Gianotti said. “It helps us keep our competitive edge a lot better and train like the kids do. Even though we’re not as exuberant as they are, we do everything they do.”

Both men won their respective overall titles during the Far West Division season, with Gianotti taking the class for skiers in their 70s and Robertson the 60s.

Gianotti supplemented his podium topping in downhill at nationals with a second place in GS and third in super-G. He also came in fifth in slalom. Only the downhill was held at Park City. The other disciplines unfolded at Sun Valley, Idaho.

“Winning the national championship in the premier event is very rewarding,” said Gianotti, who outraced 20 competitors to win the downhill.

Robertson, who was ailing with a hyperextended knee, also finished seventh in super-G and 13th in GS.

An unnerving crash at Sun Valley earlier in the season changed the course of Robertson’s season.

“Normally, I’d be in the top four or six in my age group,” said Robertson, who recently sold Tahoe Amusement Park. “Since the crash I’ve been a little tentative. It’s a little tough to come back. A knee brace allowed me to keep racing, but it scared the hell out of me.”

Both men also competed in the world championships at Park City before nationals. A strained knee limited Gianotti to a fifth-place finish in GS.

“I was very disappointed that I didn’t get to participate in all the races, because that’s an event I like to do well in,” he said.

Robertson finished 14th in GS, 15th in a second GS and 16th in super-G.

While most men their age are more comfortable on the golf course, Robertson and Gianotti have no plans to give up their downhill passion.

“We had two 85-year-old guys at nationals. I was looking at them, thinking I could probably stay around until then,” Gianotti said.

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