As a former SPAC racer I can say that Sun Cup is one of the best and most fun races in the Junior circuit. Sun Cup is not only fun because of the racing itself but because of the friendships and stories that are made. This event is a week long with two super-G races and two training runs for downhill and two downhill races. Athletes and parents spend the week having fun on and off the hill.
SUN CUP PART 1 – THE SPEED
First let’s talk about the race that happens at Sun Cup. For most Pacific Northwest ski racers, sun cup is the first opportunity they have to try a downhill event. It’s an incredibly scary and exhilarating time for a racer. Knowing that you are about to ski down a hill as fast as most people drive in their car, is exciting and terrifying.
Many racers naturally love speed and ski fast at their home mountains every weekend for fun. A person can walk up to almost any racer, former and present and they can tell you about a time they got in trouble for skiing too fast. Even for kids who like skiing fast, skiing a downhill course takes incredible skill, strength, stamina, focus and emotional courage. To understand that the course you are about to ski has a knoll that can send a racer soaring 80 feet through the air has many a racer and parent quaking in their boots. Before you get in that start gate, the nerves start to roll in and you wonder why you decided to do this. This is how I felt when I raced my first downhill. Lucky for me and for all of our SPAC athletes, we have amazing coaches to help kids through their nerves. To give them the skills, confidence, and encouragement that helps turn fears, into exhilaration, a love of ski racing and an incredible sense of accomplishment. The coaches do a great job making everyone feel comfortable. They make sure everyone understands that if you don’t want to race downhill you don’t have to. Coaches know that a big part of skiing is the mindset that a racer carries. If a racer is not 110% about skiing a race run, then they shouldn’t be out there. They encourage the racer to stick around and watch the other athletes, and see how the race unfolds. If the athlete is nervous but really wants to do the race, the coaches encourage them to take it slow and not strip down to a speed suit, but use the training run as a speed slip. It was this that helped many nervous racers complete their first and even second downhill.
This year at Sun Cup we had many racers get on the course for the first time, and many racers have personal accomplishments far greater than they had anticipated. Any many of our athletes went home feeling a new love of racing and of speed (sorry parents)
sun cup part 2 – the fun
The best part about Sun Cup is that it is not all about the race. Yes, when athletes are on the hill, it is definitely all about the focus of the run, but off the hill the team gets to have fun hanging out with each other. During Sun Cup SPAC rents two big houses right next to each other for the athletes and parent/family to stay in. This is a fun time because the adults get time to bond as well as the racers. One of the cool aspects of the race is how together everyone is, the athletes and the parents really gets a chance to work as a team. In one of the house a waxing garage is created for doing skis. Older racers teach younger racers how to care for their skis. Parents plan ahead for meals. They work together to cook – and not only have fun but save on the cost of eating out. After dinner, Dave reviews the race videos from the day on a big screen with the whole group. During this time the parents get to be a part of and see what their athletes have been working so hard on. They witness the technique and skill that their kids are beginning to master and how well the coaches work with the athletes. Race video is fun but that is not the only exciting part about this week long race. At this race there is a little more freedom given to the athletes. They are able to go off and hang out with friends, and that’s what makes it fun. Sun Cup is a race to look forward too. It is always a great time and an exciting race.