Young racers rip at PCMR |

Young racers rip at PCMR

Hannah Wilson from the Park City Ski Team shows her stuff on the giant slalom course Thursday morning at the Eric Hays Memorial Open Series.

Long days and manmade snow made little difference as Park City Mountain Resort and the Park City Ski Team hosted one the season’s most popular opening youth ski races, the Eric Hays Memorial Open Series.

The Eric Hays Memorial race began two decades ago to honor the memory of Eric Hays, a Park City Ski Team member who was killed in a car accident. The race has since evolved into one of the largest races of the season, welcoming over 200 youth, some as young as 12 and up through the college ranks.

The four-day race welcomes racers from all over Intermountain area, including clubs from Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Last year even saw some international racers.

The event started on Wednesday, with two days of giant slalom, followed by slalom racing on Friday and Saturday.

According to Park City parent Mimi Beebe, the opening event is important to her son, Brandon, because it offers him the opportunity to get his point total down for better seedings throughout the winter racing series. The Beebes moved to the area two years ago from Las Vegas, Nev. so Brandon could compete with Park City Ski Team.

Her devotion was evident as she watched the full moon rising on Wednesday night while Brandon skied down the tail end of the second run after falling in the first run earlier in the day.

"Last night was really interesting," Beebe said, "But he finished on his feet."

University of Utah alpine skier Will McDonald uses the Hays Memorial as practice for the Utes’ upcoming downhill ski racing season.

The senior from Aspen, Colo. finished his last college final exam yesterday and headed to the hill this morning with some of the team. He said that the rest of the Utes will start competing as soon as their finals are finished.

McDonald finished his second race just minutes after Sun Valley Ski Team racer Biche Rodriquez, a 24-year old that says he enjoys starting the season on Park City’s slopes. "It’s fun. It’s a great race for the beginning of the year," Rodriquez said. The older competitors said that the race seemed smaller than last year, about 142 males and 100 females, but stilled enjoyed the level of competition. The races are a family affair for the Anderson family, who make the trek each year from Idaho so that their two daughters and two sons can compete in the annual event. Ashley Anderson felt pretty good on Thursday after finishing two giant slalom runs with a combined point total of 155.52. "I feel great," Anderson said. "It’s really fun." For the Young family of Salt Lake, it’s the "fun" factor that keeps them on the mountain. Thirteen-year old Zach was skiing in his first race of the year as a member of the ROWMARK Ski Team. "So far, so good. It’s only his second run of the whole season," said his mother, Melissa. Melissa says that it is his adoration of the mountain that keeps him so competitive. "He loves it," she said. "For a child to want to get up at 6:30 a.m. to ski in a blizzard, then they must really love it." The Eric Hays Memorial Open Series will continue with slalom racing on Saturday, Dec. 17 starting at 9:30 a.m. on the Payday run.

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