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Ski race starts season
Youth racers test their mettle under clear skies on a near-perfect course.
By Miller N. Resor, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: January 23, 2013
Cold weather and clear skies delivered near perfect conditions for the third annual Wes Barron Speed Series, race director Bridger Call said.
All weekend junior ski racers dropped from a starting shack shrouded in Wyoming flags on top of Apres Vous onto the polished track of a giant slalom. The shiny path they cut into the south-facing exposure of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort shone in the bright sunlight like the braids of the Snake River in the valley far below.
“We had three of the better days of junior racing you will ever see,” said Call, who is also the director of the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club’s alpine program. “It was one of those weekends that as a ski racer is as good as it gets.”
Jackson had around 50 skiers in the 260-racer field. Giant slalom is considered a speed event because the gates are spread farther apart and racers ski faster through bigger turns. A separate race was held each day of the Martin Luther King weekend, and competitors battled the course once in each race.
“The Wes Barron Speed Series is an annual race we hold that everyone looks forward to,” Call said. “It’s a great venue, and it kicks the season off for a lot of our racers.”
Call said Jackson had “pretty solid results across the board” with two Jackson racers emerging on top of the divisional standings at the end of the weekend.
Devan LaMere, 15, took the series championship among the Under-16 (U16) girls, and Daniel Mulligan, 13, won the series championship among U14 boys.
LaMere placed seventh in Saturday’s race, finishing less than a second behind the first-place finisher. On Sunday she fell to 10th, but rebounded Monday, taking first place. The three separate outcomes were enough to make her the series winner.
Mulligan took first on Saturday and Monday and fourth on Sunday. His performance was also good enough to emerge as the weekend’s champion.
Holden Parazette, 12, another U14 boy from Jackson, finished in second-place overall just behind Mulligan, taking second on Saturday and Monday and edging Mulligan by six hundredths of a second on Sunday to take third.
Ann Shea, who turned 14 on Sunday, led a strong group of U14 Jackson girls with a fifth-place finish Saturday and a fourth-place finish Monday.
Anna Gibson, 13; Marika Hanson, 13; Anna Barker, 13; Mary Margaret Grassell, 13; Riley George, 13, and Gwen Dowson, 13, all U14 Jackson girls, moved around in the top 20 all three days.
Gibson took eighth on Saturday and 10th on Sunday. Hanson nabbed sixth on Sunday and eighth on Monday.
John Garrett, 14, was Jackson’s top finisher among the U-16 boys. On Saturday he took 22nd and on Monday 29th. He did not finish Sunday’s race. Henry Hakoshima, 14, finished all three races taking 30th, 24th and 23rd.
Several U18 and U21 racers from Jackson also competed in the race, but Call said their presence was mainly for training purposes.
While riding the Apres Vous chairlift to the top of the course on Saturday, Garrett said the Wes Barron Speed Series was his second race of the season.
“It’s really fun to have a race on the home mountain because we all know it because we ski it a lot,” he said. “The conditions today are really good. After the second inspection the course looks seamless. There is a small rut here and there, but nothing bad at all, I was actually really surprised.”
Garrett prefers giant slalom because in contrast to slalom races it only requires one run.
“I like it because I fall a lot. It is easier to put together one good run than having to put together two,” he said. “Super G tends to be a faster course. You use longer skis and the gates are more spread apart.”
Wesley Barron, the race’s namesake, grew up racing with the Jackson Hole Ski Club and proceeded to coach for the club until he died in a climbing accident in 2009.
“Wes loved to ski at the village and he loved skiing speed,” Call said. “It seemed fitting to name this race after him.”
Call said Barron’s legacy also includes a growing scholarship fund named in his honor that provides financial assistance to young ski racers.