OUT OF THE GATE
Race directors cope with abnormally dry and warm conditions,
but competition continues By Hank McKee
Last season, Lake Tahoe racing venues got nearly 70 feet of snow. This season — not so much.
The resiliency of the nation’s ski racing has been tested by
Mother Nature over the first six weeks of the competition season.
Snowfalls — unless you live in Alaska — have been spotty at best
and all but nonexistent in some normally white locations. Reports
from regional race directors, however, indicate that while it’s been
a struggle, racing is going on. There have been some postponements, there have been races moved and some development projects lost, but there have also been plenty of races held, as readers
can see on our results pages.
The National Climatic Data Center shows natural snow-depth
levels very localized with peak depths of 27 inches in Idaho and
Wyoming, 25 in Vermont, 24 in Utah and Montana, 23 in New
Hampshire, 19 in Oregon, 17 in Colorado, 12 in Michigan’s Upper
Peninsula, 11 at the northern tip of Maine, seven in Minnesota and
five in both California and New York. None of those are close to
Western Regional Competition Director Lester Keller said there
are: “places with snow and places without snow. We’ve had success with most of the races and have had to move a few. It’s been
abnormally dry — we’re waiting for that pattern to shift — but snowmaking capacity is saving us.”
Keller said he had just returned from races at Jackson Hole and
Snow King and that conditions there “are as good as it gets.”
“We’ve had a few postponements, but we’re having races,” he
said. “We’re fortunate that we don’t get rained out like some places.
It’s been staying cold.”
Terry DelliQuadri, the director in the Rocky/Central Division, re-
ports there have been some projects canceled, and that if not for
good early-season snow, the schedule would be much worse off.
“We were going to take the B-team — our top J2s — out to the
Eastern Cups and had to cancel that project, and the Smartwool
Series at Aspen was going to include a J3 Speed camp and that
had to be canceled,” said DelliQuadri. “There were two downhills,
two super G’s and the J3 camp scheduled and they got the super
G’s in by moving them to Ajax where the hill had been prepared for
the World Cup [in November].”
DelliQuadri said November snow and early-season preparations
for the national team have helped out. “We’re racing now on early
snow,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve had 10 inches since. We were
lucky to have early-season training on the speed facility at Copper
and then at Vail.”
He said a variety of January projects are now under threat if the
snowfall amounts continue to be miniscule.