Jeff Olson traded places with Jeremy Nobis and, it seems, in the nick of time.
Olson, among the newest residents to Park City, won the second and last Super G ski race of this Nor-Am series and his last race before heading back to Europe, hopefully, with the new burst of confidence he was looking for.On a course set down sections of Snowbasin's downhill run, Olson bettered Nobis, himself a product of the Park City ski racing program, by 11-hundredths of a second.
On Wednesday, the standings were reversed. Nobis beat Olson by 13-hundredths of a second to win the event.
In Nobis' case the win was almost expected. He opened the year with four consecutive giant slalom wins, followed by a second. He, too, went to Europe for World Cup racing and came back to the U.S. for this race series and a little more training before returning to the elite circuit.
Olson, in contrast, won the Pan American Games in August, but then had very poor U.S. finishes and equally bad World Cup results in December.
"They (U.S. Team) sent me back to build a little confidence and get in a little training before heading back to World Cup. This race helped a lot. `Nobi' (Nobis) has won enough, now it's my turn," he said as he joked with Nobis near the scoreboard.
Nobis, the second skier out of the gate, said he felt better about the second race.
"I skied better today. I tried to be a little more technical. Where I could I searched for speed. It's hard to win on a course like this. You can feel good, but be on your edges too much. Someone could do better," he said.
Five skiers later someone did come along and do better. Olson beat the field with a time of one minute, 28.43 seconds. Nobis was pushed back to second with a time of 1:28.54. Third was Todd Kelly, also a member of the U.S. Ski Team, with a run of 1:29.24.
Another local skiers, Spencer Eccles, skiing as an independent, finished in the top 15 for the second straight day with a time of 1:31.25.
After the race it was announced that Nobis, because of his early season results, was being moved from the B to the A team for the U.S. Ski Team. It was also announced that Park City's Stephanie Palmer and Sun Valley's Picabo Street were being added to the B team.
Olson said after the race that he felt good about his run. Unlike on Wednesday where he made some technical mistakes, he said on Thursday that the made none.
"I tried, as the coaches tell us, to let the skis flow like a babbling brook . . . to let nothing interfere with the flow of the skis," he said. "I needed to win here, though. I needed the confidence. I just tried to relax and do my best. On this hill you have to be loose. You can't make any mistakes."
Looking back over the course, he said he felt he gained time at two points.
"On a turn near the top of the course just before I hit the flat and the last turn before the finish. I hit both perfectly," he explained.
The race, which started two weeks of the Utah Winter Games, continued Friday, but with a whole new cast of racers. The Friday Super G was for skiers in the Masters Series.
The Winter Games continued on another front Friday. The University of Utah Invitational started at Solitude and the White Pine Touring Center in Park City.
Schools competing in the Utah event include Alaska-Anchorage, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Brigham Young University.
The six-day FIS ski racing series will begin Sunday. Races will be held at Snowbird, Park City, ParkWest and Deer Valley.