Polar vortex changes the course of Alpine ski race

Though Alpine skiers thrive in cold temperatures and windy terrains, the polar vortex that hit Minnesota this past week certainly altered the final conference race of the season. The frigid temperatures which closed down school and all activities left the St. Paul Academy and Summit School alpine team short of a weeks worth of practices leading up to their final conference race. After a lack of practices leading up to this important race, the skiers all agreed that everyone was a little “rusty.”

“It’s definitely slowed a lot of us down because we haven’t practiced. It’s not the best race, but it’s not that bad,” sophomore Phineas Tait said.

The weather also makes a difference, because alternating cold and warmer temperatures can create ice on the course.

“The course just gets very icy and it becomes very difficult to ski down cleanly. We have a lot more people sliding off of the course,” senior Ben Putaski said.

When temperatures drop so low, a team system is employed to keep team members from getting too cold before and after they race. Just before a skier takes the course, one of their teammates takes their jacket and returns it to them at the bottom of the hill. This type of camaraderie keeps up the team spirit as the majority of the team waits inside in between runs to warm up.

The polar vortex left all teams without practice leading up to the race, and slipping off course was common among all racers. For some, the cold temperatures make the warmth of the chalet an added incentive to go fast.

“I feel like the colder it is the quicker I want to get down,” 9th grader Clara Garner said.

Because all of the teams experienced the same lack of practice and icy course, the girl’s team won 1st place in their conference, while the boys came in 3rd.