By Harley Nefe
The 16th annual Sugar Mountain Adult Race League kicked off its first night of the 2021 season on Jan. 4.
“Ski Country Sports and Sugar Mountain are proud to kick off this year’s SMARL event,” said Bill Leonard, owner of Ski Country Sports, who co-sponsors the racing league along with Sugar Mountain Resort.
Matt Leonard of Ski Country Sports said the conditions for the opener race night were beautiful, with great snow and perfect temperatures. He also said the race crew did a nice job getting the course up and running on time, and it being in great shape.
“Everything ran smoothly, and it was nice to get out and get some fresh air after a busy couple of weeks,” Matt Leonard said. “It was fun, and we’re excited for the season.”
The racing league is in the same format as it has been in years past. Each team consists of six to eight people, and the top four fastest times down the slopes qualify toward each team’s point total. Each skier and snowboarder get two runs down the slope, and their fastest time is the one that is counted. Points are added up after each night to determine a league champion at the conclusion of the racing season. Racers compete for six weeks for some great prizes and bragging rights at the end.
This year, there are nine teams competing in the race league.
“And there were quite a few new faces out there, which was good to see,” Matt Leonard said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are not as many participants this year when compared to seasons prior, as usually, the number of racers is capped off at 100. This is the first year the racing league hasn’t seen a full amount of participants, with it being 20 people shy of the 100 cap.
Also because of COVID-19, all racers must wear face coverings while on the slopes, and in addition to these guidelines, there are social distancing protocols for inside the lodge following the race.
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we’re not doing any food in the bar afterward, but still some people joined up there until they got the final results in, and as usual, had a beer celebrating their wins or losses,” Bill Leonard said.
He further said, “The usual after race festivities have been toned down, but everybody was still out there having a good time and enjoying the night skiing.”
On the first night, the fastest skier was Andrew Jochl with a time of 21.99 seconds. The fastest snowboarder was Erich Schmidinger with a time of 26.45 seconds.
Out of the starting gate, first place is a tie between Team Sugar and Ski Country A with 18 points for skiing. There is also a tie for first place between teams The Lodge and Edge of The Squirrel with 14 points for snowboarding.
The different teams with their members, the rest of the results and the team standings after the first week of racing can be found below.
Team Sugar 18
Ski County A 18
Good Ole Boys 13
Banner Elk Cafe 13
The Lodge 14
Edge Of The Squirrel 14
Schooch Legs 12
Team Southeast 9
Ski Country D 6