Jans Cup tour wraps up
The Intermountain Masters alpine ski racing series finished its season-long tour over the weekend and the male and female overall point winners were presented with the coveted Jans Cup. Starting last December, more than 160 adult racers ranging in age from 18 to 86 tested their skills on what is affectionately called the "Grey Circus."
The 2016 season frequently saw a combination of challenging weather conditions and course sets that demanded both patience and determination from competitors and organizers alike. Celebrating its 75th year and hosting alpine ski races since 1940 — including the 2002 Olympic downhill and super G — Snowbasin was the venue for the Jans Cup finale where track conditions and weather only allowed one of four scheduled races to be run.
Traversing the Wasatch Mountains, other Jans Cup tour stops included Park City and Wolf Mountain. A total of five slalom, three giant slalom and two super G races counted toward the Cup. Using the current FIS points schedule for placement, 10 races were scored to determine the overall season winners, who also get to wear No. 1 race bibs during the 2017 season. The 2016 Jans Cup overall winners are Craig Norton, Men’s Class 3, and Jenny Badger, Women’s Class 2.
Having its genesis from the Veterans Series of the ’60s and ’70s, USSA recast this adult-focused race program as the "Masters" with the added objective of extending this platform to younger (18-plus years) racers transitioning from USSA Divisional programs, college teams or club racing. With all four alpine disciplines offered, Masters races are conducted on three continents and are typically hosted at FIS-level venues using World Cup course sets.
"Masters ski racing is as much about lifestyle as it is competition," said Bill Skinner, the USSA Masters Manager. "It’s about new relationships and sharing life experiences, learning new skills and challenging yourself. It’s about feeling like a kid again with the ability to step up to the plate and not be afraid to take a swing. In a word, it’s fulfilling."
Following in the footsteps of his ski shop-pioneering father, Pete, Jan Petersen opened the first Jans Mountain Recreation Experts store in 1980. A former four-way ski competitor, Jan has been a long-time supporter of junior racing and founded its largest fundraising event in the area — the Jans Winter Welcome. About to enter its 36th year, its support of young athletes continues to broaden through the Youth Sports Alliance organization.
In 1993, Jan Petersen and Bill Skinner came up with a concept for the "older" kids in the neighborhood and created the Jans Cup series. Adding the Masters program was a logical progression in Jans’ support of local athletes and their dreams.
"Sponsoring the Masters series was a natural extension of what we’ve been doing for junior racers," Peterson said. "Many of these adults have kids or grandkids in ski programs and understand, either by experience or association, the hardships and dedication required of these young racers. They, in turn, step up to contribute where and how they can. This makes the Jans Cup about more than a trophy."
Running parallel with the Jans Cup, the Intermountain Division Masters added tour stops in Red Lodge, Sun Valley, Soldier Mountain and Jackson Hole. The 10 best races out of a combined total of 18 were scored from a possible six slalom, six GS, four super G and two downhill events to determine the season overall and class winners.
Not surprisingly, both Craig Norton and Jenny Badger again bested their respective fields, even when the additional full-season contests were counted. However, the racing, particularly within the top-10 men and women, was very close.
The men’s overall contest saw Thunder Jalili (M-5) finishing a scant two points behind Craig Norton (M-3). Only six points separated Richard "Slabby" Slabinski (M-7) in third over fourth-place Bobby Skinner (M-7) — they also finished 1-2 in class. Tying for ninth overall were Jesse Foster (M-5) and Bill Skinner (M-8). But bragging rights belong to Knut Olberg, who blew away Men’s Class 10 and finished 15th overall.
In the women’s overall race, Heather Black (W-6) came within eight points of Jenny Badger’s (W-2) first-place victory. Other close top-10 contests were between Amy Lanzel (W-7) and Lisa Densmore (W-6), separating fifth and sixth by only four points, and Dasha Kadulova (W-4) and Ellen Hendrickson (W-8), with a two-point difference for eighth and ninth, respectively.
The Grey Circus now moves to Big Sky, Montana, for the Phillips 66 Masters National Championships with downhill, super G, GS and slalom events scheduled for March 16-19.
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