Downhill racers got a hurry-up call to don helmets, goggles and racing suits Thursday to race a snow storm.
Because of the large storm that moved into the state Thursday evening and left upwards of two feet of new snow on what was an ice-smooth downhill course, race officials moved today's scheduled Nor-Am downhill back one day.Racers weren't at all bothered by the decision. After two days of practice runs on the 3,200-meter Snowbasin course, they were anxious to compete. Then, too, it was a choice of running a good, fast course under cloudy skies, or having to plow through freshly fallen snow in a snowstorm.
For four young racers, it was especially important that they run the early race. Hanging in the balance between a good and a bad race were tickets to Europe and a spot in World Cup competition.
The race was held and Tommy Moe, A.J. Kitt, Stephen Porino and Jeremy Nobis, all members of the U.S. Ski Team, made their reservations for an early flight out Sunday morning.
The first to make it down in what appeared to be the winning time was Kitt, a 20-year-old racer from Rochester, N.Y., and winner of Tuesday's Super G at Snowbasin.
He'd had a good, clean run, he said, "with no mistakes at all. I felt good. I stayed low and had a good line. I'll be great if I win, but there are some good racers to come."
Kitt's time was two minutes, 23.08 seconds. Porino followed with a time of 2:23.62, then Nobis, who skied on the Park City Ski Team for eight years, recorded a time of 2:24.31. In ski racing the best skiers ski first, so everything looked set until Moe, skiing 14th, broke the timing beam.
The Palmer, Alaska, native pushed all three back with a run of 2:22.91.
Afterward he admitted he was mildly surprised. "I didn't think I skied that well at first," he said. "I kind of just relaxed and put it on auto-pilot. The snow had set up and the course was faster.
"The secret was to keep in a low tuck and run a clean line, I guess, and not to rush it if you got out of line.
"It's a confidence builder. I'm ready to get back to Europe (World Cup) now. This will help me a lot," he said.
This was a good week for Nobis, too. He was, said a Ski Team official, "sitting on the fence." He needed some good showing to win his ticket. He finished third in the Super G on Tuesday and fourth Thursday. He will, he said after the race, "be leaving Sunday for Europe . . . and I'm ready. That's where the competition is."
This was his first downhill event of the year, and he said he was very pleased with his finish.
Another good run was turned in by Spencer Eccles. The former University of Utah skier, racing as an independent, was the 18th skier on the course and posted the 7th fastest time, 2:24.57.
A second downhill is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. Whether or not that race is held will depend on new snowfall. Crews packed the run on Friday and if no new snow falls during the night, the race will be held.
At this point, however, it simply means one more run before a long plane flight for the four top finishers. They've made their way.
Snowbasin officials are simply waiting and watching. A Super G and a downhill were held and therefore the area's newly recognized downhill course has been properly christened.
Scheduled on Friday as part of the Utah Winter Games was the University of Utah Invitational, with alpine events scheduled at Solitude and cross country race at Jeremy Ranch.
Opening ceremonies with singer Kenny Loggins will be at the Huntsman Center on Saturday. Tickets are available at the center on the University of Utah campus.