Nicole Ritchie added the second half of the Twin Peaks weekend to her success story on the dry matt with victory ahead of Claire Winthrop and Ailsa Hay. The margin of victory over the rest of the field, almost four and a half seconds, gave aspiring racers in the field a measure of just how much they need to do to reach the same level that Ritchie has on the dry matt. Jemma Clarke and Beth Whatford rounded out the top five.
The story could have been so much different as disaster struck Eilidh Ryan on the first run. Ryan hit difficulty at the top of the course on her first run when an errant helmet obstructed her at the top of the course. The racer stopped and after appealing was given a provisional rerun. The rerun saw Ryan post the fastest first run time before she was disqualified after it was deemed that she had already straddled a gate prior to stopping for the errant helmet. The anticipated battle down the infamous Hillend slope will have to wait for another day.
Ritchie may have looked slightly twitchy on some gates on both runs but she let her skis run, had a good line and showed the rest of the field just how to race the course. Her time would have been good enough for fourth overall in the mens race! Had Ritchie been in the position she would have had to attack on the second run, her time could have been quicker.
Claire Winthrop, just recently back from a season of racing on the Ski cross circuit in Europe took second overall yet could not live with the speed Ritchie set on the first run. Winthrop improved on the second run slightly but only just managed to hold off the exciting talent of Ailsa Hay who took third. Hay is an Under 14 racer and was mixing it up with the older girls and made it onto the main podium as well with the third fastest run on both runs.
Hillend is a slope that takes time to learn and gain experience on and with the British Championships being held on the hill in September some of the English and Welsh racers that have aspirations to be the best on the matt would have done well to take the time to get experience on slope. It did not help that the race started so late in the day but this is something the race organisers will need to work with the slope operators to try and overcome in the future if they are to attract the best racers from across the country to the premier slope in the country.
The age group winners were Ailsa Hay (Under 14, 3rd Overall), Holly McKey (Under 16, 9th Overall), Jemma Clark (Under 18, 4th Overall), Claire Winthrop (Under 21, 2nd Overall), and Seniors Nicole Ritchie, race winner.
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