Wednesday, Feb. 10, marked the first ever mixed gender head-to-head dual panel slalom race hosted at Dutch Henry Hill. Panel slalom is slalom sized turns with giant slalom gates.
An event that appears to be the start of a new tradition for Lake County skiers, it was created by Lake County High School (LCHS) Principal and Alpine Coach Ben Cairns as a way to add a race to the competition schedule in a year where hosting ski areas first appeared sparse.
“Duals are something we’ve always had fun training at Dutch Henry,” Cairns said. “When the directive came through for smaller field sizes, weekday races, and still trying to come up with a full slate of races we thought we’d take the opportunity to do something new.”
Summit High School gladly joined the effort. The field was split into varsity and junior varsity brackets (also new for Colorado High School Activities Association racing) and the athletes hiked and raced the 11-gate course. Included in the set up was a homemade start gate (to prevent false starts) and slow motion video of the finish line which had to be consulted by the finish referees four times throughout the day for finishes that were too close to call.
In the double elimination event the Panther skiers started strong with all the varsity and junior varsity fields winning their first head-to-head match-ups. On the varsity side, Jace Peters and Brady Potts were the earliest to be eliminated. Gwen Ramsey was eliminated in the quarterfinals after a tough crash that sent her off the main pitch and into the powder.
Cassidy Gillis fought her way to fourth place after an early loss to Summit’s Paige Peterson who then also became her final match-up in the battle for third/fourth place. Gillis lost by mere inches to Peterson after consulting the video review. Matt Cairns finished the varsity field for Lake County in second place to Summit’s Jenna Sheldon.
On the junior varsity side Kiera King and Avery Milne held their own till they lost in the quarterfinals. Maya Nagel and Lucia Zettler both skied into the semifinals. But it was Josiah Horning who would represent the Panthers in the finals where he finished second to Summit’s Liam Dalzell.
Local middle school students also participated in Wednesday’s event. Layah Foley placed third for girls in both the morning and afternoon races; Kasey Glaser placed fourth and sixth. Jacob Cairns placed sixth in the morning and fifth in the afternoon for boys.
“It was a really fun and fantastic day,” said LCHS Alpine Coach Danielle Ryan. “On a year when so much has been cancelled it was really great that we were able to pull off something so fun and positive. Hopefully this is the start of a great new tradition.”
The high school Panthers will ski slalom next at Ski Cooper on Thursday, Feb. 18.