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10th Season of SMARL Comes To A Close, Team Sugar & Sugar Ski School Win Tiebreaker

The 2015-16 SMARL Awards Ceremony on Monday. Photos by Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

The 10th anniversary of the Sugar Mountain Adult Race League (SMARL) lived up to the hype as both the snowboarding and skiing competitions came down to the wire on the sixth and final week of the 2015-16 (SMARL) season on Monday.

Team Sugar and Banner Elk Café tied in the skiing category with 120 points apiece and Sugar Ski School and Edge of the World tied in the snowboarding category with 55 points.

With the competitions tied, organizers decided to use the four fastest times from each of the teams tied for first place to decide the winners; this method is a common tiebreaker in team snow sports.

Team Sugar’s four fastest times came out to 145.6 seconds compared to Banner Elk Café’s 152.53 seconds in the skiing competition. Sugar Ski School also edged out Edge of the World with 191.11 seconds compared to 196.22 seconds.

“Everybody is happy,” Sugar Mountain Resort owner and SMARL competitor Gunther Jochl said on Tuesday.

For the past 10 years, Sugar Mountain Resort has hosted the “beer league.” The race takes place on six Mondays in January and February and always sells out by about Thanksgiving. It’s been dubbed an “underground” event because of the popularity of the despite zero advertisement.

Initially, the league was open to 120 competitors. But the more competitors, the longer the competition nights dragged on. So organizers reduced the capacity to 100 racers and everyone is able to get off the slopes by 8 p.m. This also shores up some time for the competitors to drink a beer or two, eat some food and mingle amongst each other.

“I think it’s been a great 10 years,” Jochl said. “It’s nice to get together with everybody and have fun, put in some racing and then sit down and talk and meet a little bit and relax during the hard season. Everybody works as hard as they can and to take an evening out to relax a little bit is a good thing.”

Bill Leonard, owner of Ski Country Sports, a SMARL sponsor, praised Sugar Mountain Resort and the competition itself for offering great sport and camaraderie.

Leonard noted that of the 100 competitors about 50 of them have been SMARL participants since day one, and Stumpy McKey, a SMARL participant and organizer, said that generally SMARL sees one new team a year out of the dozen or so. In short, there isn’t much turnover.

“Obviously people enjoy it,” Leonard said.

Leonard praised Gunther and Kim Jochl of Sugar Mountain Resort for the commitment it takes to host this event on time each season and handle all of the logistics.

“I don’t remember ever having any glitches,” Leonard said. “His staff over there has been just great.”

Leonard noted that McKey puts in a lot of effort to tabulate and record all of the results, race times and individual information. MeKey and Eric Schmidinger, Sugar Mountain Resort manager, have set the course for the past 10 years, arriving early and staying late to take down the gates.

He also mentioned Wesley Aldridge, Danny Kirkland, Rick Bowen, Nathan Paris and more. Leonard noted that so many folks have contributed to the success of SMARL and it’s tough to recognize them all.

“Over the years, there has been just so many,” Leonard said.

See Final Team Standings for 2015-16


See Top Individual Standings for 2015-16

MENMEN SKi and Snowboard


Women's SKi and Snowboard

Bill Leonard, owner of Ski Country Sports, was the emcee of the awards ceremony on Monday.
Keith Lane, owner of food services at Sugar Mountain Resort, prepares the blueberry pie for the SMARL group.
Eve Parsons and Kristen Gray tied for first in the women’s snowboard category.
Men’s Snowboard Category: 1st: Austin Burr, 2nd Place: Adam Englert; Third Place: Andy McDaniel
Women’s Ski: 1st Place: Elizabeth Beatle; 2nd Place: Kim Jochl; and 3rd Place: Jessica Hendricks
Men’s Ski: 1st Place: Erich Schmidinger; 2nd Place: GJ Mennen; Third Place: Matt Leonard
Modern Rustic placed third in snowboard category
Edge of the World – 2nd place snowboard team
Sugar Ski School – 1st place snowboard team
Ski Country A placed 3rd in Ski category
Banner Elk Cafe – 2nd place ski team
Team Sugar – 1st place ski team
Sugar Mountain Resort owner Gunther Jochl and Ski Country Sports owner Bill Leonard
Stumpy McKee official scorekeeper of SMARL, looks over the results with another competitor.
Banner Elk Cafe team ribbing Team Sugar as they walk to the podium for the second place trophy.
Banner Elk Cafe owner Les Broussard and Sugar Mountain Resort owner Gunther Jochl, clutching the first place trophy, congratulate each other on another competitive SMARL season.
Banner Elk Cafe ski team and supporters gathered for a group picture before the 2015-16 SMARL awards ceremony started.