Back in the biz league gates at Copper |

Back in the biz league gates at Copper

Summit Daily/ Adrian DiUbaldo

COPPER MOUNTAIN ” Steaming down Bittersweet and nearing the final gate of the season-opening Copper Mountain Business League giant slalom race, Sean Totch lost touch with the snow in rare fashion.

He caught an edge with his ski and vaulted into a full front flip as he crossed the finish line. The crash sent a poof of snow high in the bluebird sky. Multiple somersaults later, Totch came to rest.

He smiled through a facemask of frozen flakes ” though it wasn’t because “he’s alive, at least,” which was what one observer said when Totch sat up.

No, this was a smile of indifference. Totch, an all-state skier in high school who went on to compete in college, was here to have fun, just like the rest of the field at Thursday’s race. Despite the spectacular crash, he said he’d achieved his goal.

“Everyone’s trying to get back in the groove, just basically have a good time,” Totch, a first-time biz league racer, said of the purpose served by the season opener.

That Totch ended up in second place helped. The former Michigander-turned Copper Race Department employee finished three-hundredths of a second behind biz league veteran Mike Meindl, who won the best-of-two-runs event with a time of 26.12 seconds.

It was only the second day on snow all season for Meindl, who has won the season championship at Copper three times in his 25 years competing in the resort’s popular town series.

“It was getting a little chunky ” some chickenheads ” just because we’ve had so much snow,” Meindl said of the conditions. “Actually, it skied pretty well.”

Copper’s race department members slipped most of the seven fresh inches of snow off the course by the time the race began, but the soft bottom layer reared its rutted head during the second run.

It still didn’t slow too many of the experienced racers down. Steve Jones, a 14-year veteran of the Copper biz league who has missed only two races over that span, finished third (26.66) on a fresh pair of $1,200 skis he won by sweeping last year’s Keystone night league. Jeff White, who runs the Copper Race Department, took fourth (26.83), while Gregory Mead rounded out the top five (26.85).

The season opener didn’t count for team points, and although individual standings were on the line, most regarded it as a practice race. Among those who chose not to compete Thursday was Sean Ramsden, the Team Summit alpine director and former NCAA GS champion, who dominates biz league events when he shows up.

“He’s very busy,” Meindl said grinning. “I don’t think he has time to come out and race anymore, which is good for me.”

Jamie Baker easily topped the other four racers in the women’s alpine division, finishing in 27.93 seconds. She was followed by Tanya Muller, who called her run “a little awkward” but still finished in 29.82. Wini Gentholts took third (31.12).

Sean MacCarron won the men’s snowboard division in 33.54 seconds, two and a half ticks ahead of Anton Rainold.

Defending telemark champ Tory Hauser won his division uncontested in 31.49 seconds.

When not getting their equipment and form geared in, many racers present Thursday echoed Carol Wedgwood’s sentiments.

Wedgwood, a Keystone ski instructor who races for the aptly named “Silver Streakers” team, finished fourth in the women’s alpine division.

“I’m looking to stay up and have a good time,” she said. “Because I’m not going to the World Cup, but booting up and showing up is part of it. And especially if you make it to the bottom ” that’s a good day.”

Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13630, or at

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