|Musings from the Sidelines|
"Probably more than you wanted to know about the Para-Ski Championships,
but I'm telling you anyway"
by Trisha - email@example.com
I'm not sure if I have much business writing an article like this, because I've never skydived and, if truth be told, this was the very first meet I've ever attended! But who knows! Stranger things have happened, and someday I just might get up enough nerve to actually participate in this fine sport of which I write!
On Day One of the The Ranch Parachute Club's Para-Ski Competition the weather cooperated wonderfully. The day dawned with sunny skies and temperatures soaring into the mid-60's. This made us feel like summer was finally going to come soon. On this wonderful morning the two of us from skyXtreme and our german friend and competitor, Jens Holzhaeuser, arrived at Hunter Mountain for the "Para" part of the competition.
My first impression of the Hunter Mountain ski lodge scene was one of amazement because of the large crowds present at this late date in the season. After walking around and getting lost for a few minutes, we finally located the para-ski registration desk and all the friendly folks from The Ranch Parachute Club. This was our friend Jens' first Para-Ski competition and he was eager to register, so we stood on the sidelines and watched as he went through the registration process. When things quieted down, we introduced ourselves to Guy Wright, the Ranch DZ manager.
Bill Richards' Chopper
It was great to meet Guy, the guy who manages the Ranch (oooh bad joke, but I couldn't resist!), and he was very friendly and welcoming to us. We skyXtremers especially liked the inscription of his cap, "Girls kick ass"...Now ain't that the truth!?!
In fact, we had a warm welcome from all the Ranch folks that morning. We especially enjoyed sharing a few laughs with Randy Symmonds, one of the many super Ranch people, as we waited for the first event to get underway. [Check out Randy's photo!] Altogether 25 participants were registered to compete. We waited with our friend Jens as everyone received their final instructions about the helicopter jumping and the "dos and don'ts", and then we trughed off to the designated meet area tucked away to the far side of Hunter Mountain.
Lucky us! We remembered to bring our lawn chairs...yeah right...to the snowy mountains. And apparently we were the only ones who did! But-DUH-we were really brilliant at first as we plopped down in the wrong spot. If we had stayed there we would have had a face full of dirt and been blown away by the helicopter. However, luckily for us, it didn't take us brainey ones long to figure that out...well, with BIG hint from Guy! Once we re-situated ourselves, we were able to park our butts in the sunshine and enjoy the show which was about to begin.
On the hillside in the snow slope, a painted target was sprayed in the snow with neon orange paint. The helicopter took off with the first four jumpers and the competition was underway!
Randy's not a loser!
I must say, because this was my first skydiving competition, I was surprised at the way the skydivers were dressed. Several of the guys wore shorts and T-shirts and some even wore shorts with long-johns. The remainder wore blue jeans and stuff like that, with only a few dressed in jumpsuits and all those "official" kinds of skydiving clothes.
Okay, let the jumping begin!!!
Looking upward only a few minutes after the helicopter took off, we could see the first jumpers as they rode under their canopies and tried to angle in for a dead-center target landing. The first few weren't far off! But, brrrr!...what a chilly landing some experienced as they slid their butts into the snow and aimed to "hit" the target! More than one laughing remark could be heard about "digging the ice out of their asses"!
I should mention here that snow conditions were not so wonderful at this time of the year. The snow was not exactly ice but more like slush, and it made landings rather difficult for many. The winds were sometimes not very cooperative, either. On his second jump, our friend Jens had a landing which was particularly rough when his chute caught the wind and he was dragged away from the target and right towards ME!!! EEEK! Boy, did I make a quick maneuver myself as I hopped out of the way!
By noon, the sunny skies had been replaced with clouds and it started to sprinkle. However, the jumpers continued until it started to pour. And what good timing the weather managed to pull off! At that point, the competition broke for lunch, and when the hour was over, the rain had let up. Even though the afternoon stayed cloudy and gray, with intermittent sprinkles happening, the "Para" part of the competition managed to be completed.
Those Ranch folks really know how to party and have a good time! And that evening, at the banquet, awards for the top three spots for parachute accuracy were handed out. The happy winners in three categories were as follows:
Men's Open: 1st - Ivan Kaczor; 2nd - Andre Lapoint; 3rd - Chris Chandler
Men's Intermediate: 1st - Ole Thomson; 2nd - Bob Raecke; 3rd - Ken Griep
Women's Open: 1st - Kay Hoiby Griep; 2nd - Kellie George; 3rd - Jaynie Marie Thomas.
Sunday, the day of the "Ski" portion of the competition, dawned sunny once again. I wondered, "Was the weather going to tease us again today, or what?!?" Heading back to Hunter Mountain to observe the events, I couldn't help thinking about the tremendous effort which was put into the organizing and running of this weekend by the Ranch Parachute Club. The competition could not have happened without all the volunteers, manifestors, judges, and helicopter pilot! (YEAAHH BABY!!) They all pulled together to work hard towards making the weekend a fun-filled one to remember!
The ski portion of the event was the Giant Slalom, and it soon became apparent that the skill levels of the participants ran the gamut from hoping to make it through the course on a shovel (yes, a real shovel!) to Olympic wannabes! Although the ski event took place up on the mountainside away from immediate view, we could still see the competitors in the distance and could watch as some easily shooshed their way down the course while others struggled to make it past all the flags.
The Shovel Ride
And our modest friend Jens, who never participated in an Para-Ski event before and never ever, as he stated, carved around those flags on a slope, just gave it a try, and guess what...took home his first trophy for the third place in the giant slalom! Now THAT made us cheer! Way to go, Jens!!!
Hunter Mountain was a fun place to be on that Sunday morning as the competitors ran their course while other skiiers were in action all around. Because this was almost the last ski weekend of the season, the resort was enjoying quite a lucrative weekend. By noon, the last official run had been completed and the competition was complete.
Awards were handed out in the three categories for the "Ski" portion of the event and also for the overall winners of the competition with final official results as follows:
The happy winners!
Giant Slalom Winners:
Men's Open: 1st - Andre Lapoint; 2nd Chris Chandler; 3rd - Ivan Kaczor
Men's Intermediate: 1st Tim Davey; 2nd - Mark Thomas, 3rd - Jens Holzhaeuser
Women's Open: 1st - Kay Hoiby Griep; 2nd - Jaynie Marie Thomas; 3rd - Kellie George
Overall Para-Ski Championship Winners:
Men's Open: 1st - Andre Lapoint; 2nd - Ivan Kaczor; 3rd - Chris Chandler
Men's Intermediate: 1st - Ole Thomson; 2nd - Mark Thomas; 3rd - Tim Davey
Women's Open: 1st - Kay Hoiby Griep; 2nd - Kellie George; 3rd - Jaynie Marie Thomas
All in all it was a great weekend! Skydiving folks are fun, warm and friendly people to be around! I'm already looking forward to my next encounter of the skydiving kind. To all you great people at the Ranch, I say, "YEAAAH BABY!"
Check out the Ranch Para-Ski Photo Album for some great pictures!