PARK CITY -- Not only was the Loritz Cup an energized first event on the Intermountain masters calendar on Jan. 11-13, but it also served as a reminder of the frailty of life and the strength of the human spirit. Created by Gary Loritz, in his final year before succumbing to ALS, the event also includes the Brett Pendleton Cup, which is awarded to the men and women's overall slalom winners.
Pendleton was killed in a training run of SG in the first running of the event in 2006.
Loritz would be proud of way his namesake event has evolved. The three-day event held at Park City Resort, now includes two super Gs, a GS and slalom, along with three lavish awards parties.The two super G races were also scored for the National Speed Series, which helped draw nearly 100 racers from Colorado to Idaho. To further bolster the field, organizers offered free entry to all first time masters racers, and as many as 10 racers took advantage of the offer.
The Loritz Cup is presented to the combined, four-event winner, using an age handicap system. As men's Loritz Cup winner, Class 7 Bobby Skinner joked, "The winning combination is to be old and fast."
Women's winner, Amy Lanzel from the Class 6 ranks chimed in, "I've been waiting a long time to get this old. I'm just thankful that I'm still fast enough."
Skinner and Lanzel started their quest for the Cup with the first of two super Gs on Jan. 11. A major winter storm besieged the area that night leaving two-feet of snow in Salt Lake City. In a reversal of fortunes, Park City only was hit with less than one-foot, which was easily slipped away, and plummeting temperatures firmed up the snow surface for near-perfect racing conditions.
Class 3, local racer Dana Alexandrescu ruled both super Gs, but Lanzel played the age-card to perfection, placing third in both races. She finished behind Class 2 runner-up Jenny Badger, but Lanzel also had to keep her eye on the ageless Class 10 Sun Valley racer, Nancy Auseklis who finished fourth in both races.
The track kept getting faster as the day progressed. Chris Probert took first and third in the two races, but in the second race, a rare tie to the hundredth allowed Class 6 Franz Fuchsberger and Thunder Jalili (Class 5) to share honors. Skinner did his job, however, and kept himself within three seconds of the leaders in both races.
The temperatures continued their downward slide into Saturday's slalom. Alexandrescu remained hot, however with a resounding win, but Lanzel surpassed her expectations with a second place. Class 3, Beth Sarazine posted third, while Auseklis continued her pursuit of the Cup with a fifth-place.
The men's race brought out the three fast-twitching Brower brothers, who captured first (Mitchell) and third (Danielle), but old-timer, Tim Hill (Class 5) elbowed his way onto the podium in second place.
Sunday dawned brutally cold. "When I drove up to the parking lot on Sunday morning for the GS, it was eight-below," exclaimed Alexandrescu. " I wasn't looking forward to stripping down to a GS suit and I had to ask myself what am I doing here." What Alexandrescu would wind up doing was win her third straight race by at least eight seconds and put her boot firmly in the door for the Loritz Cup win.
Being familiar with the system, Lanzel know she was among the leaders with two runs to go. "I knew it would be close, but I had no idea where I stood," said Lanzel. Once again she stayed tight to the leaders with a fourth place finish, behind runner-up Dasha Kadulova (Class 4), and third place finisher, Sarazine.
With Falk going out in the first run after hooking his arm into a GS panel, Skinner's confidence grew, and he responded with his best race of the series, fifth place overall, just three-seconds out of first. Local Class 3 racer, Craig Norton took the win with Chris Probert and Tim Hill competing the podium.
McCollom writes for Ski Racing Magazine