Nothing happened that wasn't supposed to happen, unless, of course, you count the order in which things happened.
The field of 32 men and 16 women was firmed up in Park City's America's Opening pro skiing event on Friday. And, as expected, the best racers from last year qualified to race in this year's opener.There were, however, a few moments of concern. A scare, if you will, in the hearts of organizers. The double billing almost turned single. A twin almost became the only child in the debut of pro ski racing in the United States for 1990-91.
Steve Mahre, one-half of the Mahre twins, pro ski racing's single biggest attraction, had to sit through four races in the "hot seat."
Of the 32 qualifiers, Steve Mahre was 32nd. He came within hundredths of a second of getting his ski tip caught in the event "door" before it closed on him. Had he not made it in, he would not have been able to compete this weekend.
But he did make it and so did his brother, Phil. But he, too, had an anxious moment. He missed the first cut and had to try again in the second before his name was posted as a starter for the men's giant slalom today and the men's slalom on Sunday.
In the women's event, another skier of note, especially among the Park City locals, also took the final seat, but her win was more ceremonious than anxious.
Tori Pillinger, a Park City skier who retired from the U.S.
Ski Team last year, and was the only rookie among the 19 women entires, placed 16th.
She did it on her second and last try, and on the very final run of qualifying. That quick, Pillinger was in and Abbi Fisher, another former U.S. skier, who was holding the "hot seat," was out.
For Pillinger it was an exciting and rewarding time.
"Making this race meant a lot to me," she said from the finish area. "I didn't qualify where I wanted, but at last I'm in. I was neverous. But it's exciting being here with the other girls and competing on my home course."
By taking the last spot, however, it means she'll have to race the No. 2 qualifier - Catharina Glasser Bierner of Sweden.
To make the field Bierner posted a time of 31.175 seconds over the Clementine coures that includes three six-foot jumps.
Pillinger took the 16th spot with a time of 32.453.
The top women qualifier was Birgit Hussauf of Austria. She clocked a time of 30.602, which was good enough to win her the prize of a women's Rolex watch worth $3,500, which is more than a third of what she won on the women's tour all last season as its No. 2 finisher. For the 1989-90 season she won $10,820.
While the women's tour is struggling, the men's is growing.
This year the men will be racing for more than $2 million in 16 events.
The top qualifier and winner of the men's Rolex, worth $3,700, was Bernhard Knauss, also of Austria. He qualified with a 28.935, but won the watch with the fastest time of the day of 28.628.
More important to Knauss than the qualifying spot or the watch, however, was the positive signal that he's back and healthy. Last year he was injured in the first race and ended up missing the next four races.
"I felt good today. I'm in good shape. My leg hurt going off the bumps, but it's not bad," he said.
To win, he said, he skied cautiously.
"This is not a course you want to take the bumps too fast.
You have to ski carefully. If you go too fast it can throw you off," he said.
No. 2 qualifier on the first round was Roland Pfeifer, another Austrian and the top finisher on the pro tour last year. Pfeifer clocked a 29.070.
Under pro skiing rules, all skiers race once. The top eight from each of the red and blue courses qualify. All skiers then return to the top of the course and race a second time, where the field is completed with the top eight from each course.
Phil Mahre fell on his first run. On his second he skied well enough to qualify in the third spot for the second eight. Steve finsihed his first run but did not make the field. On his second he clocked a 29.947, which was only good enough to take the eighth spot of the final eight.
Two racers that skied after Steve, and could have knocked him out, fell. Two others failed to better his time.
The only local to try for the men's field was Steve Bounous, coach of the Snowbird Ski Team. Bounous missed the cut on his first run and lost a ski on his second.
The women will ski in the finals of the GS at 10 a.m., the men in the GS finals at 1 p.m. today. Under pro rules, two skiers race, then return to the top, switch courses and race a second time. The skier with the lowest combined time advances to the next round.
Only the men will run on Sunday. They will ski in a slalom final at 11 a.m.
Tickets are available at the Park City ski area.