Third Town Race Series a ‘cranker’
As a member of the U.S. Ski Team for 12 years, Heidi Voelker has seen her share of competitive races. Nowadays, she enjoys a laid-back atmosphere where former ski racers gather to compete, which is why she’s one of the constant faces at the Park City Mountain Resort Town Race Series.
After competing in three different Olympic Winter Games and three World Championships and earning six top-ten World Cup finishes, she now just enjoys grabbing her kids and taking them to the hill on a Wednesday night.
"They’re going to go bomb around. It’d be easier if it were a non-school night, but we’ve got to fit it in when we can," she said.
The third of four races took place Wednesday night at PCMR. The originally scheduled Feb. 16 race was rescheduled due to high winds. March 9 will be the last series race of the season.
Having warmed up this week after a large dump of snow last weekend, the run was very soft, according to some racers.
Robert Saunders, born and raised in Park City, grew up ski racing. After competing for the Park City Ski Team, he went on to compete for the U.S. Ski Team. He said the environment is exactly what he envisioned when he signed up to participate in reliving his glory days.
"So much fun," he said. "The competition here is amazing. You have people who are NCAA champions, you have U.S. National Champions for GS here, and then, you have Joe Blow. It’s just a good atmosphere.
"You see so few people with race suits on. It’s just about being out there and having fun."
Saunders, a member of the Stein Eriksen Sport team, finished 12th in the men’s individual race and said the course set out by fellow U.S. Ski Team alum, Justin Johnson, was "just a cranker. It’s the turniest it’s been all season."
Voelker, who did the forerunning for both the red and blue courses at Eagle Race Arena, said she enjoys strapping the skis on again and getting after it.
"It’s GS, it’s my event," Voelker said. "You’ve got to come and keep everybody honest."
Park City Ski Team director Jesse Hunt, who orchestrated the return of the Town Race Series, said the races have gone well and, while the challenges are there, he knows people are enjoying their time.
"It’s been rewarding," he said. "Seeing people doing what we do is fun. So many people are into it."
He said they’ve had 188 registered participants to this point and typically see a little more than 100 racers each week.
"My goal was to create that culture again," he said.
Hunt said that without sponsors like Gaddis Investments and The Corner Store, the series would have been difficult to revive.
The winners of the third Town Race Series were John Buchar on the men’s side and Jessica C. Kelly in the women’s race.
Team Alpine Promotions consisting of Charlie Ligety, Scott Veenis, Adam Cole and Kimberly Stephens won the team race.
Voelker said many former ski racers are just jumping back in the saddle again.
"Everybody who’s out there, skiing and ski racing is their biggest interest," she said. "There’s just something about coming out and making a good GS turn. It’s like making a good golf swing, I guess."
All results from the third PCMR Town Race Series will be posted in next Wednesday’s scoreboard section.
“Even the dogs were celebrating the reemergence of the sun.”