Locals storm out of the gates at Eric Hays Memorial race
December 20, 2011
Craig Bowden said his Park City Ski Team group of J1 alpine skiers saw the rewards of rigorous off-season workouts at the 30th annual Eric Hays Memorial ski race this last weekend at Park City Mountain Resort.
Racers Daniel Demschar and Sophie Frankenburg were among the Park City Ski Team members who carved through the snow with ease as each earned multiple podiums.
"I was glad to see where we’re at," said Bowden, looking back on the weekend’s races. "It was good to see these guys build confidence in what we’ve been doing. We’ve been going in the right direction.
"I really hope they continue to roll into the season. It’s really nice to see them start it off so strong."
The Eric Hays Memorial race was an open series race with skiers from all different backgrounds competing. Former alpine pros competed alongside collegiate racers and amateur alpine skiers from around the Western United States such as Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Sun Valley, Idaho.
Demschar had two third-place finishes in the men’s giant slalom races on Saturday and Sunday on the PayDay run at PCMR. The Park City Ski Team speedster finished with a two-run combined time of 2:28.36 on Saturday and finished with a combined time of 2:34.07 on Sunday. He also had a pair of sixth-place finishes in the men’s slalom races on Thursday morning and Friday afternoon.
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"Daniel Demschar has really proved himself to be one of the fastest kids we have," said Jesse Hunt, executive director of the Park City Ski Team.
Frankenburg had an exceptional weekend as she kept up with Jessica C. Kelley, a former World Cup circuit ski racer who retired from competition two years ago and is now a skier/coach with the Park City Ski Team.
In Sunday’s women’s giant slalom, Frankenburg finished second with a combined time of 2:32.66, just .19 seconds behind the pacesetting Kelley. In Saturday’s women’s GS, Frankenburg finished second with a combined time of 2:40.29. On Thursday, she came in .02 seconds behind Kelley in the first of two women’s slalom races, and on Friday she earned a third-place finish in the other slalom race.
"In every top three, she was there," Hunt said. "She was consistent and fast. That was great to see."
Hunt said one of the more pleasant surprises of the four-day race event was the development of Fiona Morrison, who had four top-10 finishes among the group of 250 total racers. Park City Ski Team member Hannah Hunsaker also had four finishes in the top 11. Natalya Polukoff finished seventh in Thursday’s slalom and 10th in Friday’s slalom race.
Other local standouts in the women’s GS were Cassidy Wilson (sixth, ninth), Molly Leavens (third) and Katy Greene (sixth).
On the men’s side, Cody Marshall had a pair of fourth-place finishes in the men’s slalom races, while Max Staples (eighth, 13th), Nigel Elliot (ninth) and Riley Peek (10th) rounded out local top 10 finishers.
Staples continued his stellar weekend into the GS races as he finished fifth Saturday and 10th Sunday. Hayes Graham finished sixth, while Harrison Padan came in ninth Saturday. Park City Ski Teamer Kieran Adams finished ninth in Sunday’s GS.
"We had some good skiing going on," Hunt said. "We’ve had some kids working hard through the fall and it was fun to see them improve their results."
According to Hunt, the weather and snow conditions were ideal, which helped lead to a competitive race every day of the event.
"The snow held up really well for those big fields," he added. "Everyone had a shot from wherever they started."
Bowden said the team passed its first trial of the season and much of the credit goes to the skiers’ ability to compete on such a big early stage.
"It was a match up head-to-head with their peers," he said. "It was also the first time this season everybody from this division gets together and they get to match up against each other in a race environment. It was a litmus test for these guys going in, and they passed."
Next up for the Park City Ski Team will be a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyo., Jan. 14-16, as the racers will participate in the Wes Baron Speed Series.
"We’re excited to take what we learned from this last race and to get back to the training block," Bowden said.