By Nathan Ham
The 2020 Sugar Mountain Adult Racing League (SMARL) is officially in the books with another great season of fun, friendly competition. Team Sugar took home first place in the ski division. Team members were Sean Mckee, Anderw Jochl, Wesley Aldridge, Kim Jochl, Gunther Jochl and Erich Schmidinger. First place in the snowboarding division went to Schooch Legs. Team members were Nick Sdrenka, Aaron Maas, Alex Ettinger, John Holder, Adam Thompson, Shane Bryant, Ed Winebarger and Austin Burr.
Bill Leonard of Ski Country Sports has been organizing SMARL races for over 15 years.
“We’d like to thank Gunther, Kim and the staff at Sugar Mountain for everything they do setting this up every week. We have great conditions out there no matter what the weather is,” said Leonard. “One of the real treats is that most of the people here are the same people that started with us 16 years ago. We get new people every year, some people come and go, but it’s nice that everybody comes up and hangs out.”
Gunther Jochl always enjoys getting together with his friends at these SMARL races. It’s a good time to take a break from the normal hustle and bustle of the workday.
“We have a nice time talking about things and seeing everybody and I think everybody enjoys it. It’s a group of people that just enjoy getting together. You know them all and it’s a great thing. It’s nice camaraderie,” Jochl said.
Some competitors come from well off the mountain to participate in the annual SMARL races, including one person from Greenville that is willing to make the two and a half hour trip each week.
Both Bill and Gunther wanted to extend a special thanks to Keith Lane and the foodservice crew at Sugar Mountain for helping with the postrace meals and the race crews that do the setup and break down of the racecourse and timing equipment.
The Good Ole Boys, who ended up finishing in fourth place, have competed in each year of the racing league. The team members are in their late 50s and early 60s and got a good laugh thinking back to when the High Country Press‘s own Ken Ketchie pointed out their last-place finish in a previous race season.
“Our primary inspiration for the Good Ole Boys is to always have fun. Our secondary inspiration is one year when Ken Ketchie told us we came in last again and kidded us about it, so we made it our new goal to not come in last place,” laughed team member Mike Trew.
The biggest winner out of all of this are children from Avery County High School, Avery County Middle School and Cranberry Elementary School that will receive $1,500 from raffle tickets.
“We started this last year with the intent of supporting some youth program. We raised right at 1,000 dollars and found an organization in the Avery County School System where three schools, Avery High School, Avery Middle School and Cranberry Elementary School had ski programs,” said Bill Leonard. We gave each school $500 to help supplement and encourage young kids in the county to get out and ski so we just followed suit with that this year. The ski industry is a big important thing in Avery County and it’s unfortunate that we don’t have more Avery County youths participating so we’re trying to do a grassroots-type thing inside the school system to get more participation from the kids out there.”
One such youth program is through Sugar Mountain Ski Resort where youth groups can come to the mountain on Tuesday evenings and each child can take lessons, ski and rent equipment for $15.
Ski Country Sports Demo
Ski Country Sports has an equipment demo for retailers scheduled for Wednesday, March 4 at Sugar Mountain. Currently, Sugar is reporting a 45-90 inch base, conditions are great! Weather is calling for snow this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday so it should be a great day.
Ski Team Winners
Snowboard Team Winners
Men’s Ski Individual Winners
Women’s Ski Individual Winners
Men’s Snowboard Individual Winners
Women’s Snowboard Individual Winners
Pictures from the awards ceremony
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