A different breed of skier took over the Wilbere Ridge race course here Saturday. Some called them veterans or seniors. The skiers themselves, however, simply preferred to say they were "better, as in vintage wine or cheese."

After a week of Utah Winter Games elite races on the slalom course at Snowbird, the first of two masters' races was held Saturday. The second will be Sunday as part of the Games' final events.The field of racers on Saturday wasn't as large as for the elite races, but the range of experience far exceeded the earlier races.

Take Russ McDonald of Seattle, Wash. True, McDonald didn't set a track between two gates until he was 45, but that was 16 years ago. He is now one of the top masters racers in the country and comes to Utah every year to race for fun and experience.

Asked to grade his skiing today, without hesitation he answered, "Better. Much better now." McDonald won the men's 60 and over event with a time of 2:03.12.

Marvin Melville, one of Utah's most noted ski racers and a former Olympic coach, made a similar comment.

"Oh, I think I'm better," he smiled. "The older the better for me. I've never raced like this, with the break-away gates, the new equipment, all the pads and armor."

Melville won the men's 50-54 division with a two-run time of 1:40.45.

The older-is-better moniker fits no one better than Victor Roy. The seasoned veteran of ski racing showed the "youngsters" how it was done.

Roy, skiing in the 35-39 class, posted the fastest time of the day on both runs. His times were better than 30 other racers in the younger - and larger - 30-34 and 21-29 divisions.

Roy posted times of 47.99 and 45.65 seconds on his two runs. Yan Karpiel, a former Yugoslavian national racer and skiing in the younger 21-29 class, was second fastest with times of 48.58 and 46.54.

Other winners in the men's divisions include Bob Logefiel in the 55-59 class, Larry Baker in the 45-56 class, Bob Sarchett in the 40-44 class, and Bill Hicks, director of the Snowbird race department, in the 30-34 class.

In the women's divisions, Suzanne Hedgecock won the women's 35 and over, Julie Hayes the women's 30-34 and Siri Anne Holst the women's 21-29.