When you are the acknowledged top seeds in a race, it is easy for the mind to wander and the focus to go. Both Euan Kick and Nicole Ritchie gave the rest of the field a lesson in how to win down the famed Hillend slope. kick took the Men’s race by a shade under three seconds from Oliver Weeks with Scott Waitt in third while in the girls race Ritchie won by just over two seconds from Carla Gardiner with Alannah Lawrie placing third again.
Giant Slalom is rarely contested on the dry mat due to the length of slopes, Pontypool being the only other venue that regularly hosts a Giant Slalom race. With this in mind, it was great to see the racers attacking the slope and the courses set by Murray Howie and Mark Vinter.
Carla Gardiner gave Ritchie more of a challenge than she had expected on the first run yet still had a lead of just under a second over the racer six years her senior. Lawrie also raised her game to be closer in to Ritchie after the first run, giving Gardiner a run for her money being just fourteen hundredths behind. Claire Winthrop had given all bar Ritchie a challenge by going into second place after the first run. Sadly she dropped down to fifth after the second run as she was unable to continue her promising form.
The mens race saw Scott Waitt in second after the first run, behind Kick with the rest of the field in close attendance to him. For one racer, the thought of a long journey home had him thinking of asking for an early start so as to get home in reasonable time. Being in contention for the podium, saw Ollie Weeks stay to race at the business end of the race and he battled into second overall. The experience of his first Overall podium will live with him for a long time. Weeks edged out Waitt for second by six hundredths after the second run.
After crashing out in the Slalom and being disappointed with his first run, Ross Taylor set about trying to make the Overall podium. Spurred on by the rewards that were on offer, Taylor produced a run that showed how he can do when he is challenged. In posting the second fastest time on the second run, Taylor battered his way up to a commendable fifth overall, just behind Stuart Waitt.
With the Ward girls dominating the Girls Mini’s Giant Slalom, again Isla leading Erin home, young Sophie Anderson took third and the leading Under 10 title. Under 10 racer Lewis Calder, took the boys win ahead of Gordon Wylie (Under 12) and Jamie Anderson.
Picture: Nicole Ritchie on her way to winning the Girls Giant Slalom at Hillend. Credit – Racer Ready, all rights reserved