Racing in a Whiteout: Enduring the Elements in Sun Valley, Idaho


sun valley

After securing a berth to the USCSA National Championships, my men’s alpine team – along with other competitors who qualified individually from our team – began the journey to Sun Valley, Idaho. The drive from Tahoe took around twelve hours, passing through the rather nondescript high desert of northern Nevada. Idaho’s Sawtooth Range juts up from the flat desert basin in sublime fashion, thereby indicating our arrival to the snowcapped mountains.

sun valley

Our first day in Sun Valley served as a training day for our men’s team as the women ran the Giant Slalom course under sunny skies. That evening however, a sizable storm happened to blow in, gracing us with around three inches of snow overnight. The race would still run, regardless of bad conditions. However, as the day proceeded, the snow kept falling. Instead of enjoying the fresh face shots of billowy soft powder, my teammates and I were stuck snowplowing the racecourse. Although highly frowned upon, every few runs we’d ditch out on duties to take a free run and rip through the trees undetected by the event officials. Nearly a third of the nation’s best had already been disqualified for blowing out of the course in the first run, and although the course for the second run was set easier, the conditions weren’t in our favor. The whiteout ceased to halt and frigid winds tightened our muscles as we stood at the start gate dressed only in skintight speed-suits.

The gnarly conditions prompted some discussion about strategy. Taking a wider, more conservative line meant skating through a thicker layer of snow  meaning lower speeds. A more aggressive line would provide an adept skier with a hard surface to tear around turns, but with little to no visibility, taking this line becomes even more difficult. Ultimately, I decided to take the latter of the two options and blew out on gate eighteen about halfway down the hill. This choice subsequently disqualified my time from competition. When all was said and done, half of the one hundred-man field failed to finish both runs. Although I obviously would have preferred to clock a time, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to compete at a national level in the sport that I love the most.

sun valley


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Categories: Adventurists

Author:Jetset Times

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