THESE MASTERS RACERS ARE HARD-WIRED
FOR SPEED BY BILL MCCOLLOM
IMAGES BY SCHNEEHEXE PHOTOGRAPHY
Jennifer Kaufman takes second in
the super G at Copper Mountain.
Some might say that the masters ski racers chasing after the Molecule
F National Speed Series have a few loose screws in serious need of tightening. After all, a good argument can be made that elderly athletes up to
the age of 90 should be more careful: wait for the crossing signal, come
to a complete stop at intersections, never run next to the swimming pool
— that sort of thing. But some masters speed skiers out there ignore all
the caution lights and hurl themselves recklessly through downhill courses. And they just don’t do it once and step back and count their blessings.
Those pursuing the Molecule F Series plummet downhill up to 14 times
each season at venues from California to Vermont.
And there’s nothing dainty about these courses. They are full-bore, rock-n-roll venues with speed, air and blind knolls. They are the whole enchilada.
And before you start scoffing, “Yeah, right,” get in your car and accelerate
to 65 miles per hour on the freeway. Then unbuckle your seatbelt, open the
door, and fling yourself onto the pavement. I know, it sounds a bit crazy,
but that’s what it feels like when you lay it down at that speed on the racecourse. Yes, bad things can happen.
Now might be a good time to step back and ask the question — why? “It’s
the thrill of going fast,” says Rauli Karjalainen, 64, the winner of Group D
(age 60-plus men). “It just feels so good when you get to the finish and
you’ve had a good run and you’re not hurt.”
Class 7 racer Deb Lewis, the winner of the women’s series, echoed Karjalainen’s sentiments. “The speed is exhilarating,” she says. “You get to the
finish and you go, ‘Yeah, I’m alive.’”
Can’t these guys just ride roller coasters or something?
“There are tactics involved, questions of line, aerodynamics,” says Luke
Keenan, the Class I PNSA racer who won the A/B Group Championships.
Molecule F Series A/B winner
Luke Keenan races the super
G portion of the combined at