Racing action at the hotly-contested NorAm Cup is finally underway after the series hosted it first races in Lake Louise, Canada, last week.
Traditionally kicked off in Colorado, with slalom and giant slalom races, the schedule was altered for the 2018-19 season to open the series in Canada following the men’s and women’s World Cup speed races in Lake Louise. With downhill and super-G racing for both genders set for Dec. 3-7, the fastest up-and-coming talent from the continent was eager to battle it out for coveted World Cup starting rights.
The race series also marked the somber one-year anniversary of the tragic death of young German racer, Max Burkhart, who lost his life after crashing in the NorAm downhill on Dec. 5, 2017.
After two full days of downhill training runs, racing action got underway on Dec. 5 with men’s and women’s downhill. Racers took on an abbreviated version of the course used at the World Cup races the week prior.
In the women’s race, American rising star, AJ Hurt, who is known perhaps more for her giant slalom prowess, showed she has winning speed in downhill as well by taking the win with a total time of 1:00.78 seconds. Hurt was followed in second place by another American, Isabella Wright, who finished 0.57 seconds back of Hurt’s winning pace. Czech racer, Katerina Paulathova, rounded out the podium in third, 1.19 seconds off the pace. Hurt was also the fastest junior.
For the men, Canadan Olympian and reigning NorAm downhill and super-G champion, James Crawford, gave the home crowd something to cheer about as he took the win in 1:15.65 seconds, besting a pair of Slovenian World Cup regulars in Miha Hrobat and Bostjan Kline who finished 0.17 and 0.39 seconds back in second and third place, respectively. Crawford is also fresh off his first World Cup points after finishing in 27th place in the super-G in Lake Louise on Nov. 25. American Kyle Neogmir was the fastest junior in seventh place, 1.24 seconds back.
The alpine combined that was scheduled for Dec. 6 was cancelled but a second downhill race was also held that day.
Hurt took back-to-back wins in downhill after emerging victorious in the women’s race, posting a winning time of 1:00.45 seconds and besting Paulathova in second by 0.98 seconds. Hurt was joined on the podium by her teammate and close friend, Keely Cashman, who finished in third, 1.12 seconds back. Hurt was once again the fastest junior.
Crawford also took his second win in a row in the men’s race, posting a time of 1:15.51 seconds and finishing ahead of Canadian teammate, Alexander Cameron, in second, a slim 0.05 seconds back. Hrovat rounded out the podium in third, 0.46 seconds off of Crawford’s winning pace. Negomir was the fastest junior for the second race in a row, finishing just off the podium in fourth place, 0.51 seconds back.
The final day’s women’s super-G saw an American sweep with Hurt going three-for-three and taking the win in 1:05.05 seconds, 1.42 seconds ahead of Nina O’Brien in second and 1.56 seconds ahead of Wright in third. In fact, Americans took positions one through six and seven of the top eight in a dominant performance for the Stars and Stripes. Hurt was also the fastest junior.
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American independent athlete with GroundSwell Athletics, Samuel Dupratt, took the win in the men’s super-G with a time of 1:00.62 seconds, a mere 0.01 seconds ahead of Crawford in second and 0.12 seconds ahead of Negomir in third. It was Dupratt’s first NorAm victory and Negomir’s first NorAm podium. Negomir was also fastest junior.
For complete FIS results from last week’s races in Lake Louise, please click here.
For current NorAm Cup standings, please click here.
NorAm action continues in Panorama, Canada, this week with men’s and women’s alpine combined, super-G, GS, and slalom racing Dec. 10-16.