By now, the results of the U. S. Alpine Nationals are old news, but there are still observations worth mentioning.

One is the remarkable finish of the Men’s super-G on opening day. After the 25 or so racers had completed their runs, those of us in the warm sun at the finish area concluded the race was over. We could feel the snow softening beneath our feet and assumed the track would be slowing enough to prevent any racer from matching the best times of the leaders, especially with the leader being one of the U.S. Ski Team’s top speed skiers, Steven Nyman.

Then came 19-year-old Drew Duffy out of the 30th start position to beat Nyman’s time by .04 seconds. Later, I talked with some course workers who said the course conditions never changed up where they were. It was a lesson all of us who have attended these events in the past should have learned long ago, that conditions at the finish are often totally unlike those higher up on the mountain.

The Warren, Vt. native has never competed in a World Cup race, but after this showing he will surely be looked at very closely by the coaches for the future, and that’s what the national championships are all about.

Last week I offered some congratulations and this week I want to offer another. I have those always enjoyed seeing my weekly column run on a page with other skiing coverage. The Sun Journal sports team does more than run the token ski column. This sports department covers skiing on a regular basis, from high school to World Cup, and no other paper came close to the coverage in these pages of the U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf.

Our sports editor told me before the event that the Sun-Journal would have at least two writers and a photographer on hand throughout the competition, and the Sunday before things got started, more than half of the sports section was devoted to the Championships. Through the week, we got to read not only results, but behind the scenes information about the competitors and the many skiers who volunteer to make everything go smoothly. I read pieces by Kalle Oakes, Mike Kraft, Scott Thistle and saw the images from photographers Daryn Slover and Russ Dillingham. Congratulations on a job done exceedingly well to the SJ sports team.

As always, I look for something from these events that can help the recreational skier, and this time it was provided by Justin Pelletier in his piece about the tech reps who tune the skis for the racers.

Regular readers of this column know how I advocate keeping your skis properly tuned and how critical it is to getting top performance out of your skis. Justin got the racers to make the point as they cited the importance of their tech reps in having their skis just right for the conditions they face each day. Each racer emphasized how their relationship with their techie was a key part of their success.

How does this apply to you? Simple: Your relationship with the techies at your ski shop is the key to your having a successful season. Whether it’s the fit of your boots, or the proper tune and waxing of your skis, you need someone who knows how and where you ski to make sure everything is right.

This is also the time of year when tuning fits in with ski and boot storage. I like to tune my skis before preparing them for storage, but that can wait until fall if you do the minimum. Clean the base of the skis and iron in a universal wax or base prep. Instead of scraping as you do before skiing, leave the wax on to protect the base and the edges over the summer. Store the skis in a cool, dry place. Remove the liners from your boots and dry completely before putting them back together and buckling them completely. Again, store in a cool dry place out of the sun, as sunlight can actually deteriorate the plastic.

While this is my final column for this season, we could have skiing for another full month — and more if you’re willing to hike. A number of areas actually extended their season to offer skiing along with special events for Easter. For most of those, this will be the final day, although a few will reopen next weekend if conditions hold up.

Here in Maine, Sugarloaf and Sunday River are open daily and are shooting for late April or even the first of May. Mt. Abram, Shawnee Peak and Saddleback are operating weekends only. My advice this time of year is to check each area’s web site before heading for the mountain, or call the area’s ski phone. If we don’t get a drastic warming accompanied by heavy rain, conditions could hold up quite well. Remember that the best spring skiing comes with warm days and freezing overnight temperatures.

If you don’t get enough skiing before the lifts stop turning, there is always Mt. Washington and Tuckerman’s Ravine. I could fill an entire column on skiing those hallowed runs, but there is a single source for all the information, how to dress and the latest conditions: www.friendsoftuckermanravine.org.

Enjoy the rest of the season, and I’ll see you in November.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: