WENATCHEE — Brooke Wales has not spent a lot of time on her “home” course this season, but she looked mighty comfortable there Friday as she won both the women’s super-G and super combined races on the first day of the Western Region Elite FIS Spring Series at Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort.
“It’s very nice to be home. I’ve trained on the hill plenty,” said Wales, who grew up in Sammamish but spent most of her winters in Wenatchee and at Mission Ridge before embarking on an international career this season. “Not so much this year, but in the past, and knowing how it runs and the different terrain is extremely helpful. I’m very comfortable on it.”
Wales, 20, is one of nearly a dozen Mission Ridge Ski Team skiers competing in the field of 140 men and 140 women in the Spring Series, which runs through Wednesday.
Tara Hines, the other women’s competitor off the Mission Ridge team, was seventh in the super-G on Friday.
“That was a strong run for her,” MRST program director Ryan Shorter said of Hines. “Alec Jones and Cai Yamamoto also has good days.”
Though neither threatened for a spot on the podium, the two MRST skiers both placed considerably higher (Jones in 46th place and Yamamoto in 49th) in the men’s super-G than what they’d been seeded going into the event.
Colby Granstrom, fresh off winning the U.S. championship in the slalom last Sunday in Winter Park, Colo., was the top local men’s finisher, taking third in the super-G. The race was won by Dartmouth’s Ace Tarberry, who took ninth in the slalom at the U.S. championships last weekend. Brennan Rubie, of Salt Lake City, was second.
The 20-year-old Granstrom, who said winning the national title was the high point of his career so far, acknowledged it was nice to finally be able to relax on his home turf. Like Wales, Granstrom grew up in Western Washington but has been a Mission Ridge Ski Team member since his mid-teens.
“I had a lot of fun,” he said. “It was kind of funny that for the first time in my career these races are nothing more than just a race. I went out and played Frisbee all afternoon, and the race went pretty well.”
The super-G has been Wales’ strongest event this season, and she was able to parlay another strong run in that race Friday into a win in super combined, where skiers’ times in their super-G and slalom runs are combined to determine the winner.
Canada’s Tess Davies was second in the super-G and Hungary’s Anna Berecz was third. Katie Hitchcock of Sacramento, Calif., took second in the super combined, followed by Davies.
“Slalom’s not my best event typically, but I was able to get in a good run (Friday),” Wales said. “In the super-G, I didn’t ski the first section as well as I’d hoped, but I hit my stride coming into the giant slalom start (area) and down from there.”
Wales, who has qualified for next season’s World Cup tour, deserves a bit of slack for not being flawless on the top part of the course, considering it hasn’t been used in competition for awhile. The races are being held on the Skookum and Tumwater runs.
“This was the first time off the top of Windy Ridge since 1985,” Shorter said.