February 4, 2023
Following a cold and windy day of GS races at Berkshire East, the New England Masters took their show to central Connecticut for the 3rd Annual Jerry Donovan Memorial at Mount Southington.
For all of the attention that Friday’s weather received, the “joke” was that Saturday would actually be much colder. To further complicate matters, someone forgot to turn off the snow guns on the race trail overnight. The result was a significant amount of new man-made snow to contend with. Thankfully the groomers worked their magic, and the race officials and course setters were able to get on the hill and determine that the conditions, while soft, were safe to race on.
Two separate courses were set, racer’s left had a bit more direction while racer’s right was a bit more direct. The group decided to start with the right course first to give the left course more time to set up. It was GO time!
Most race venues have some unique aspects to them. Whether it is a well-known trail, a location on the mountain, length, pitch, or even a highway. There is typically some aspect that racers will always remember. For Southington, that unique characteristic is the start. To get to the start, racers need to take off their skis and climb a flight of stairs about 20 feet off the ground. At the top, there is a small platform where racers put their skis back on and carefully push themselves into the start. It’s a process, but the reward is almost certainly worth it.
As the race began it was clear that the “shin it to win it” style would be one to avoid on this day. The soft snow created the inevitable ruts which lead to a bumpy ride, forcing racers to be more strategic and round with their approach, while also staying light on their feet on the pitch. The result was a couple of fast, gritty, and exciting races
Following the race, the group gathered at the most appropriate Masters awards spot at a mountain - the bar. We celebrated the day with some food, beverages, and a few stories that made the day a special one, and emblematic of what Masters racing is about.
On the women’s side, the day belonged to Becka Padgett (F1) who won both races in a commanding fashion, including a full 3 second margin on Race #1. Rounding out the top three were Deb Adams (F6) and Friday’s GS race winner Ashley Lindeman (F3) and who had a great battle going in both races, with Deb taking this race by a 1.2 second margin.
For the men something special happened, both races had first-time Masters winners! In Race #1 it was Mike Misencik (M3) capturing the top spot over Luke Robins (M1) by 0.24 seconds. Mike’s victory was great in itself, but even more so because he had not been on slalom skis or in slalom gates since this race last year! Rounding off the podium in 3rd was NEMS newcomer Christophe Gueret (M3) who was off Luke’s time by about 1.6 seconds.
Coming off a victory in Race #1, Becka Padgett (F1) showed no sign of taking it easy, battling her way to a second victory of the day by a 2.7 second margin. The battle for 2nd was a tight one with Ashley Lindeman (F3) taking a 0.33 second lead over Deb Adams (F6).
The men had another first-time winner with Brendon Wilson (M2) who had a blistering first run in Race #1 and was well on his way to securing a victory in that race when he straddled a gate. More determined to leave his mark in the history books, Brandon put down two nearly untouchable runs to edge out Giacomo Migliori (M2), by just 0.17 seconds! In the mix, and completing the podium, was Luke Robins (M1).
Overall we had two great races loaded with competition across the board. A special racer shoutout to Margaret Vaughn (F9) who has been working her way back into ski racing this season, and actually skipped a Bruce Springsteen concert to be with us this weekend. Also worth highlighting was a special father-son duo who joined us for the first time Gregory (M6) and Charlie (M1) Hurchalla.
A BIG thanks to NEMS TD, Kip Blake, for again braving the elements so we can do what we enjoy doing so much. Thanks to the Mount Southington Race Dept for having us in and finding a way to make this race work. Believe me when I say they were as surprised as we were when they showed up to unexpected new snow on the course that morning.
Mark Phillips did another great job shooting this event. He captured some incredible action shots, and yes some crashes as well.
Photo Album: NEMS at Mount Southington
For complete results of both races visit: https://nemsracing.org/mtsouthingtonresults
Top 10: Race 1
Top 10: Race 2