Nicole Shering raised her game when it was required to retain her Welsh Open Championship title by winning the Pontypool race. It was not a straight forward race win for the Aldershot racer as she had to raise her game on the second run to take the race win. Lauren Vale had lead after the first run with a strong performance but a small error on the second run saw her advantage erode and allowed Shering in. Jenny Davies raised her game on day two of the weekend to take third with Jolie Hoffman and Georgia Hallett rounding out the top five.
As has been evident throughout the season, Shering and Vale have been the class acts on the dry slopes. Vale took the All England title as she laid claim to be the zero point racer for the season while Shering dominated the BSA sponsored GBR series taking three wins. Only Nicole Ritchie has taken a win in a major slalom race on the mat this summer apart from these two, winning two races in Scotland. Eilidh Ryan took the win in Scotland in the Giant Slalom.
Vale had a lead of over two-tenths on Shering after the first run with a great run. The advantage of the two racers training at the same club is certainly paying dividends for both and is testament to the coaching provided by Aldershot in improving both racers.
With Shering going before Vale on the second run, she was able to post a time that was a second and a half faster than Jenny Davies who was leading in the finish area. Davies is no slouch on the matting and is a past winner of the All England title (2015) but as University has taken her attention, she could not live with the performance that Shering put in. Shering went two and a half seconds into the lead with Vale still to come.
With all eyes on Vale it was a question as to how she would react. Vale tends to not pay attention to those going before her, preferring to focus on how she wants to race. With all attention on the intriguing set over the ridge by Robin Kellen that saw racers face the unusual combination of two delay gates straight after a verticale, this was the make or break section of the course.
Shering had taken the section smoothly and carried her speed well, Vale was a little tentative. Combinations like these require experience and Vale just lost that little speed through here and despite trying to recapture the speed crossed the line slower than Shering to go into second.
Both racers had given it their all and their competitiveness bodes well for next season. They both skied well with just fractions of a second separating them.
Hoffman took fourth and after having come second in the National race the day before was a little despondent but should look back at the weekend with encouragement as she took her first National podium. Georgia Hallett took fifth and was best Welsh racer.
The age groups were won by Jolie Hoffman (Under 14, 4th Overall), Chloe Chapman (Under 16, 7th Overall), Lauren Vale (Under 18, Runner Up), Nicole Shering (Under 21, Welsh Open Champion), Jenny Davies (Senior, 3rd Overall) and Sally Hodson (Masters, 25th Overall).
The Under 12 race was won by Daisy Putman with Alice Bond taking the Under 10 race win and third overall.
Pictures from the racing are available on racerready.zenfolio.com