It took 40 years, but next to names like Mahre, McKinney, Cooper, Frasier, Gaddis, Hoffman and Bounous, will be an Eccles. Spencer Eccles. "Little Spence," as he's sometimes called.
Sunday, the locally grown and trained skier won the prestigious Snow Cup. Two days, two races, two wins, two racers and two new names on one large trophy. Eccles for the men, Anke Friedrich for the women.Both will now head north by west in two weeks for the important Spring Series in Sun Valley, both bouyed with new confidence after good showings in the Snow Cup.
This was a special race for young Eccles. His father, Spence Eccles, "Big Spence," himself a noted ski racer, skied in Snow Cup races from 1949 to 1958 but never quite made the trophy, he recalled.
"We've been working hard since then to get an Eccles on the trophy," he said with a smile.
"Little Spence" did it and erased any doubt that he should be there. He won by the narrowest of margins on Saturday - less than half a second - and by a wide margin on Sunday - nearly three seconds.
On Saturday, Eccles, in his quest to make the U.S. Ski Team, beat the University of Utah's top skier, Henrik Smith-Meyer, on both of the giant slalom runs to win.
On Sunday, he beat another Ute, Oeivind Ragnhildstveit, who was third on Saturday. He won the first run by over a second and the second run by nearly two. Eccles' combined time was one minute, 36.95 seconds. Ragnhildstveit's time was 1:39.96.
Third was Branigan Sherman of Rowmark Academy in 1:40.02.
Eccles came into this event anxious to do well and confident that he could. Even though he'd only skied in three other GSs this season, he skied them well. Besides, this one had special meaning . . . local race, familiar snow and "Big Spence" there watching.
"I was a little nervous," he said about the start of his second run. "Now it's over it's great. My dad tried to win this one when he was young. I dedicated this one to him . . . we've worked hard together for this. He's been so supportive of me."
Making a clean sweep in the women's GS was Friedrich, a freshman this past year on the Ute team. She easily won Saturday's race and then wrapped up the overall title with two solid runs Sunday.
Her two-run time was 1:41.37, to 1:43.03 for teammate Kjersti Nilsen. Third was Karoline Droege in 1:45.79.