After a few training runs, however, Lewis was comfortable and ready to race. “Initially,
I did some ‘starfishing’ on the rolls, but I skied well in the race to finish fourth in the
women. I just couldn’t keep up with the real gliders, such as Jeanette [Saylor] and Jennifer [Kaufman].”
Race winner Saylor was born with the gift for glide. The native of Ontario captured the
CanAm downhill title in the 70s and skied her way on to the Canadian National Team.
Now living in Frisco and Denver, where she works with her husband in the oil and gas
business, Saylor hasn’t lost her touch. “I won the national NASTAR title last year, and
got the opportunity to train with the U.S. Ski Team in Chile last summer,” says Saylor,
now a Class 6.
Still wearing a cast from a broken arm in January, Saylor found the magic touch at Ski
Cooper to just get by Kaufman (RM, Class 4) and finish with a time that would place
her 11th among the men.
Another glider with a penchant for town races and NASTAR, Steve Jones claimed the
men’s national downhill title. Jones moved to Dillon, Colo., from the flatlands of the
Midwest in 1992 and started getting serious about going fast on skis. “I’ve always raced
beer leagues and NASTAR,” says Jones, winner of the 2011 Class 4 NASTAR Championships. “This is my first year of racing masters and I love it. I’ve got a good training
situation out of Loveland, and being fairly new to it, I’m still learning.”
Jones put down the fastest run of the day in the title race, just nudging veteran Erik
Klemme (Class 6, RM), but yielding to Keenan in the second race of the day. “I have
started my own ski tuning business, and I know how to make a pair of skis go fast,”
says Jones, expressing an opinion that no one at Ski Cooper would dispute.
The Speed Series (thanks to Erika Krainz of Schneehexe Photography for sharing
images) concluded with the National SG Championships at nearby Copper Mountain
later in the week, where the season end awards were presented. Deb Lewis cheerfully accepted her award despite limping to the stage with her leg in a cast. “Yeah, I
broke my kneecap in the super G part of the super combined,” explains Lewis. “I took a
header and my ski must have whacked my patella, but I’ll be back next year for sure.”
Luke Keenan will also be back on tour next season. “This is one of those times when
the experience of the journey is as great as the final reward,” says Keenan. “It’s amazing to have a tour like this. You get to meet and race against some of the best people
in the country.”
Racing speed events may be wrought with hazard and thoroughly addicting (not a
good combination for aging athletes), but as Lewis says: “It’s such a mental and physical challenge. I’ve never experienced anything so exhilarating.”
Jeanette Saylor’s cast didn’t
seem to slow her down much at
Molecule F Series winner Deb Lewis
shows how its done at Ski Cooper.