Huntsman Cup GS event brings out best
Ralph Green, a member of the U.S. Paralympics National Alpine National Team, finds a joy in ushering in the next generation of adaptive skiers more than a runaway victory.
"Being out here, as a national-team member, and being able to race with a lot of these juniors, that means the world to me," Green said.
Green, a 33-year-old adaptive stand-skier, native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a two-time U.S. Paralympian in 2006 in Torino, Italy, and in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada won Thursday’s giant slalom race at the 23rd annual Huntsman Cup hosted by the National Ability Center. The event, put on by Park City Mountain Resort, featured competitors from all over the world. Green’s win, in a combined time of 2:25:07, left him alone on the top of the GS podium.
"I take my hat off to Park City for hosting this annual event," Green said. "It gives a lot of juniors time and a chance to give them a shot to showcase what they’ve been working on."
When asked if he enjoys being around junior racers and providing tips on technique and form, Green was quick to answer.
"Absolutely," he said. "I always give the juniors a lot of pointers; I let them know how hard to push it. I let them know the importance of taking freeruns before their first run. I just be real with them."
When it comes to 48-year-old Erik Bayindirli, the downhill sit-skier wants be able to stay competitive with the youngsters and he has helped develop a way to do that.
He has a specific type of hand-ski with a unique curve on the end that allows frictionless movement on the flat part of the ski. He invented a foot-rest suspension system, which acts as a sort of a dual-suspension system along with the seat’s shocks.
When it comes to keeping up, Bayindirli said, "It’s all done with equipment." Bayindirli won the sit-skier GS race Thursday at PCMR.
While he was born in Connecticut, Bayindirli has decided to ski for his parents’ home country of Turkey in hopes of qualifying for the next Winter Paralympics Games.
He said Turkey has never been represented in the Paralympics and he wants to be the first ever.
Bayindirli said it felt good to get a win on his home hill he has been a Park City resident for five years now.
"You gotta defend the turf, man," he said. "Can’t mess around with that."
Green, now a resident of Vail, Colo., moved to Winter Park, Colo., and trained there for four years before making his first U.S. Paralympics team. He said seeing world champion racers such as Park City’s Monte Meier propelled him to earn a spot on the team and compete.
"I always wanted to do that," he said.
"I think the best part about this event is, you bring the best out of people," Green said. "You bring the best out of people not on the (Paralympic) team. You become a target; they want to beat you to eventually make the national team."
As for Bayindirli, his invention has helped him become one of those targets.
"I definitely credit this," he said. "I did well in downhill this year really well. I’m fat and old. Let’s face it. There are no illusions about being 48. But as long as I’m competitive, I’m going to make the kids catch me."