Mark Harmon and Heidi Reifenstein weren't supposed to win the Millennium Slalom Series races Sunday at Eaglecrest Ski Area, the opener of the season for the Juneau Ski Club.
Harmon just returned to town from a trip to Mexico a few days ago and didn't think he was sharp enough to win. Reifenstein had the added duties of JSC race organizer, and she thought one of the other young women would be faster.
Both were proven wrong.
Harmon didn't win either of the men's runs on Sunday, but he pieced together the best combined time. Reifenstein was three seconds slower than Heidi Denton in the women's first run, but Reifenstein posted the fastest second-run time while Denton fell back to the pack.
"I was just skiing to finish," said Harmon, a Juneau-Douglas High School senior. "I've only been on the mountain about six days this season, so I was skiing conservative. If I'd skied as hard as the other guys, I wouldn't have finished."
"There were a lot of fast women, but they slowed down," said Reifenstein, a former college skier at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. "It was fun for me to jump in there. I used to jump in and slow down, but now I'm slow enough I don't have to do that. I was surprised I won."
Nick Yankee posted the fastest first-run time for the men, beating Harmon by about 3/10ths of a second (his time wasn't available). But Yankee missed a gate in the second run and didn't finish.
In the second run, Richard Isett Jr. posted the fastest time, with Don Meiners and Zachary Young also posting faster times than Harmon. However, Isett's strong run only brought him up to sixth place overall because he missed a gate on the first run and lost about 12 seconds retracing his course.
Harmon was close enough to the leaders in each run to claim the overall title with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 30.06 seconds. Meiners took second place in 1:30.24, followed by Young in 1:31.14.
"I didn't win either run. I just happened to get Don on the overall when Richie and Nick screwed up," Harmon said. "That's the thing with skiing, you make one mistake and it's over."
In the women's race, Denton was almost exactly three seconds faster than Reifenstein for the first run, a margin that can seem like an eternity in ski racing. But Denton's second run was more than 15 seconds slower than her first run, while Reifenstein nearly matched her first-run time.
That gave Reifenstein a two-run combined time of 1:36.80, nearly four seconds faster than runner-up Gabrielle Vance's 1:40.56. Elise Wahto took third place in 1:41.11, while Denton slid all the way to fifth place.
Even though she won the race, Reifenstein said she was happier the club finally got a race under its belt.
Over the last two years, a lack of snow kept the club off the mountain until February. Last week, the club was supposed to open its season with the Timberwolf Gifts Giant Slalom Series, but a week of rain made it too difficult to set a course and that race was postponed until later in the season.
"It was great to get one," Reifenstein said. "We had a lot of parent volunteers and a small field. We're looking for more people. There is a lot more interest, and we have our AML (Alaska Marine Lines) races at the end of the month to qualify people for JOs (Junior Olympics). We really need to build up our younger members."
"It's nice to have a good early season," Harmon said. "It's good to be up there, the skiing is amazing. Down by the lodge, there's three or four feet of snow. It's good peace of mind to know we have snow for later in the season."
The next scheduled JSC race is on Sunday, Jan. 18, but Reifenstein said several of the older skiers might be out of town that weekend at a training camp so the race might be postponed. The race after that is a Super-G on Jan. 25, followed by the AML Series on Jan. 29-Feb. 1.
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JUNEAU SKI CLUB
The results of the Juneau Ski Club's Millennium Slalom Series races held Sunday at Eaglecrest Ski Area.
Women - 1. Heidi Reifenstein, first run 48.00 seconds, second run 48.60, combined time 1:36.80; 2. Gabrielle Vance, 49.50, 51.06, 1:40.56; 3. Elise Wahto, 50.72, 50.39, 1:41.11; 4. Sarah Satre, 49.82, 51.75, 1:41.57; 5. Heidi Denton, 45.06, 1:00.13, 1:45.19; 6. Lucy Squibb, 53.58, 54.79, 1:48.37; 7. Lyndsey Kelly, 54.48, 56.05, 1:50.53; 8. Sara Cohen, 56.78, 56.76, 1:53.52. DNF: Kristen Brandner (first run); Julia Nave (first run); Kayla Harmon (second run).
Men - 1. Mark Harmon, 44.45, 45.61, 1:30.06; 2. Don Meiners, 44.96, 45.28, 1:30.24; 3. Zachary Young, 46.03, 45.38, 1:31.41; 4. Joshua Young, 47.18, 48.41, 1:35.59; 5. Donny Peterson, 48.64, 49.60, 1:38.24; 6. Richard Isett Jr., 55.42, 45.24, 1:40.66; 7. Tom Meiners, 53.65, 52.48, 1:46.13; 8. Peter E. Nave, 52.20, 54.29, 1:46.49; 9. Clark Gruening, 57.44, 56.92, 1:54.36; 10. Pat Shanley, 51.38, 1:03.25, 1:54.63; 11. Peter Erickson, 58.95, 1:00.61, 1:59.56. DNF: Nick Yankee (second run).