Former Olympian Pam Fletcher sees potential for US Alpine Ski Team in Beijing

U.S. alpine skiers, both women and men, are in competitive position at the 2022 Winter Olympics beginning Feb. 3 at venues in and around Beijing, China.

“They have two very strong teams,” said Pam Fletcher, a former Olympian and star of the US national ski racing team who grew up in the Nashoba Valley ski area in Westford, owned for many years by her father and now by her brother. “They have the chops. They have the results. Our team has great potential to be medalists in all disciplines, men and women.

Fletcher, now a TV commentator on the World Pro Ski Tour, pointed out that the two-time Olympic gold medalist and triple overall world champion Mikaela Shiffrin competed and trained well ahead of the Olympics after battling COVID-19.

Connectivity between Massachusetts and New England

Shiffrin has roots in Massachusetts through her late maternal grandmother, who lived in Lanesborough. She also trained in New Hampshire and Vermont as a young runner.

In the men’s team, especially first-time Olympians Ryan Cochran-Siegle from Starksboro, Vermont, and the next generation Radamus River Colorado are likely to escape, Fletcher said.

Meanwhile, veteran Bryce Bennetwho shocked the racing world by winning his first World Cup race, a downhill in Val Gardena, Italy on Dec. 17, could also win a medal.

Cochran-Siegel, 18th overall, has four top-20 finishes on the World Cup circuit this season, including a fourth, and Radamus also has four top-20 results.

olympic veteran Travis Ganon boasts eight top-20 finishes, including seventh and eighth.

Cochran-Siegel, Radamus and Olympic and Newcomer Luke Winters join former Olympians Bennett, Ganong and Tom Ford.

There are also other forts Connections with New England and Massachusetts race through alpine and nordic ski teams and freestyle ski and snowboard lineups.

Veteran ski freestyler Devin Logansilver medalist in slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, trained at Mount Snow Academy during her high school days.

And the American alpine slalom star Paula MoltzanWho currently lives in Charlemont, in the shadow of the East Berkshire ski area, with her fiancé, a former runner from the University of Vermont ryan mooney, a native of Charlemont who is also Moltzan’s personal ski technician during the Ski Touring World Cup. Moltzan grew up in Minnesota.

Moltzan is also an accomplished giant slalom skier, giving the Americans a strong presence in technical events with her, Shiffrin and an eight-time national champion. Nina O’Brienone of the top 20 GS skiers.

Moltzan, 27, ranked 27th in the world in slalom, is a first-time Olympian. She is joined by beginners Katie Hensien, AJ Hurt, Maureen Lebel and Nina O’Brien, who went to the Vermont Ski Academy. Also returning for other Olympics are Tricia Mangan and Jacqueline Wiles.

Alex Wilkinson replaced the American GS ace Breezy Johnson – ranked second in the world in the downhill discipline – after Johnson injured himself in training in Italy last month.

COVID and the Olympics

“Breezy was a hard thing to see. Sad for her,” Fletcher said. “She skis so well.

“I still think we have a very solid team, with Mikaela in the lead and looking to start peaking at the right time.” she added. “Let’s just hope they can all stay safe and not test positive at the wrong time.”

With the Winter Games under virtual lockdown and no outside spectators other than family and team staff, Fletcher said a closed atmosphere could paradoxically lead to better performance by athletes.

“It’s interesting to see how the ‘hype’ at the Games will be very different. The focus will be more on protocol and less on media presence and fanfare,” she said. “It can have a positive influence, especially for the first Olympians. Less distraction and easier to concentrate.

What’s New in Stowe

After a few wonderful but freezing days in Stowe last week, I reflected on how this great ski area in Vermont really hasn’t changed much since I skied there with my family as a teenager in the 1970s. 1970.

It’s still as stiff, endlessly interesting, rough and often brutally cold as it’s ever been.

Yes, ski area ownership giant Vail Resorts acquired the resort as its first eastern holding company in June 2017.

But Vail didn’t change the mountain.

Vail moves

For the most part, what Vail has done is drastically cut season pass prices from $2,313 in the 2016-17 season (thanks to NewEnglandSkiHistory.com for this data) to $819 this season, and add more snowmaking capacity.

As for overcrowding, the lines were much bigger and took much longer on weekends and holidays when the iconic Mount Mansfield was only served by a vintage 1960 double chair and an older single chair. slow of 1940, which slipped side by side on the Liftline race.

Both lifts were removed and replaced in 1986. A single high-speed quad now serves the summit.

But Stowe is somewhat lacking in uphill capability, which Vail Resorts says will be largely rectified when a new six-pack replaces the old triple Adventure next season.

This will hopefully take the pressure off the summit quad by directing intermediate and beginner skiers to the new high-speed lift and gentler runs it will service.

Parking problems

Meanwhile, Stowe also has a parking problem.

The city’s Development Review Board in December rejected the resort’s application for a 286-space parking lot after complaints from neighbors on busy Mountain Road.

Stowe is appealing the decision, but in the meantime, automobile congestion in the Vermont ski area is not unique, but rather an endemic and growing problem in ski areas across the country.

Unlike Europe, where skiers are used to taking trains and buses to ski, ski area customers in the United States are used to and expect to be able to drive directly to the resort of their choice and park as close as possible to the ski lifts – free of charge.

It’s not eco-friendly or sustainable, however.

Next time you’re in Stowe or another popular and bustling New England ski area, consider using the ubiquitous shuttles that serve major access routes at regular intervals and leave your vehicle where you’re staying or on public car parks along the shuttle routes. .

New manager at Attitash

The Bartlett, New Hampshire ski area, also owned by Vail Resorts, will have a new general manager on Monday, when Brandon Swartz starts in the position vacated by the departure of Greg Gavrilets last month.

A former Mount Snow ski instructor, Swartz has served for two years as general manager of Hidden Valley in Missouri, another region owned by Vail Resorts.

Prior to that, he worked at two other Vail Resorts mountains, in mountain operations at Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin and as senior manager of lift operations at Heavenly Mountain in the Lake Tahoe region of California.

Swartz therefore knows the sprawling, data-driven system at Vail Resorts and should do well in this difficult position.

Attitash has had problems this season with the lack of natural snowfall and the placement of enough artificial snow on the hill, due to various factors including the age of infrastructure and the shortage of manpower. .

Nordic park rocks

I snuck in and skied for 40 minutes on Tuesday lunch at this amazing cross-country ski resort right next to downtown New England’s second largest city and less than a mile from my home.

When there is natural snow, and there is finally plenty, this place – perched on the Newton Hill portion of Elm Public Park – is glorious.

Its 68 acres of intersecting trails ranging from beginner to expert are free for all. Nordic Park, created and run by non-profit organizations Friends of Newton Hill and Park Spiritis a work of genius.

This was made possible through the hard work of volunteers and a grant from the State Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Recreational Trails Program which allowed groups to purchase a trail surfacing machine.

—Contact Shaun Sutner via email at s_sutner@yahoo.com.

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