Vail’s Schleper wins slalom at Copper
COPPER MOUNTAIN — Wednesday was a good day to be Sarah Schleper.
The Vail native and World Cup racer won a slalom event at Copper Mountain, took her first powder runs of the year and was home in time to take her young son, Lasse, to storytime at the Vail library late Wednesday morning.
Sometimes things just work out.
The U.S. Women’s Ski Team rehearsal race went off without a hitch and in almost record time at Copper Mountain’s Copperopolis.
“It was my first win of the year and my first powder of the year,” Schleper said. “Which is better is a hard call. Nothing beats a powder day, except maybe a win. It’s like cake with frosting.”
Racers were on the lift at 6 a.m. They were doing course inspection 6:45 a.m. and took their first run at 7:10 a.m.
Schleper won the first run and jumped right back on the lift.
At 7:50 a.m. it was inspection for second run and 8:10 a.m. for second run. Schleper won that one, too.
They were done by about 8:50 a.m., and were happy to wait 10 minutes until Copper Mountain’s lower lifts opened at 9 a.m. to get those powder runs.
“It was perfect Colorado powder on the way down,” Schleper said.
The invitational event attracted an international field with skiers from seven nations.
Competitors had to be among the top American slalom skiers to warrant an invitation.
Schleper topped Americans Julia Mancuso and Katie Hitchcock, Russian Anastasia Kedrina and Croatian Ana Jelusic in the top five.
Wednesday was her third time in the starting gate this season. She was one of the later starters in Levi, Finland, last weekend, and the grippy snow caused problems. She finished outside the top 30 in the first run.
“I just got back from Finland where I had such a strange race,” Schleper said. “I had been skiing well and fast on ice. I wanted to do this practice race on soft snow and execute a good performance.”
Copper Mountain’s race crew managed to put the event together quickly, said David Roth, Copper Mountain spokesman.
“Despite the soft conditions, the hard work of our race team made the event a success,” Roth said.
Ghents shine in FIS GS
In other action on Copper Mountain Wednesday, American Kiley Staples won a FIS giant slalom.
She finished with a combined time of 2 minutes, 8.60 seconds, ahead of Olympian Stacey Cook (2:08.61)
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail was well-represented by the Ghent sisters. Abby finished fifth in 2:20.11, followed by Erika, who races for University of Colorado, in 16th (2:11.64).
FIS racing continues with a slalom today at Copper.
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