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Ski notebook

A grand weekend is on docket at Killington

By Marty Basch
Globe Correspondent / March 12, 2009
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Vermont natives and fellow Olympians Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter will have at it this weekend at Killington for the US Snowboarding Grand Prix overall title. Clark is the defending Grand Prix champ and is leading the women's standings following a victory at the Copper Mountain opener and a second at Boreal. Teter, who won the halfpipe at Boreal, is close behind with Gretchen Bleiler sitting third.

Louie Vito and Steve Fisher are tied in the overall men's standings. The finals in the 430-foot-long halfpipe with 22-foot walls are scheduled for Saturday with slopestyle Sunday.

Hannah Kearney is heading into her final World Cup of the season March 18-20 in France with a 2009 FIS Freestyle Ski World Championship dual moguls bronze medal. The Norwich, Vt., skier, who won World Championship gold in 2005, took third in Sunday's championship in Japan behind gold medalist Aiko Uemura and Miki Ito, both of Japan, on a course Kearney said was incredibly difficult, with snow changing from slush to ice.

"I'm really actually disappointed in my level of skiing, but pleased with the medal," said Kearney.

She plans to rest, train, and show up in France ready to take the World Cup title.

Coaching by remote?
A European company has tested a remote sensing system that can trace a ski racer's line down a mountain and discern minute flaws in technique that are likely to go unnoticed by the naked eye.

Tiny transponder tags in the front and back of the skis emit radio waves a thousand times a second, which are picked up by antennae placed along the course. The system then processes the information to determine near-constant ski positioning over the length of the entire run, which is said to be accurate to within 3 centimeters. Coaches and athletes will someday be able to view the resulting data to determine proper balance, and if a skier is carving turns accurately and approaching slalom gates in the most efficient manner.

Abatec, which is based in Austria, recently completed the product's initial testing in Germany, and researchers are attempting to perfect the application before marketing it for commercial use. According to Science Daily, issues include finding an adhesive that will keep the chips affixed to skis while on course while allowing the tags to be easily swapped out between different racers.

Ready to erupt
The ninth annual Tuckerman Inferno returns with a twist to Mount Washington April 18. The Inferno, a fund-raiser for the nonprofit Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, is open to individuals and teams of five. The competition begins with a run from Glen, N.H., to Thorne Pond in Bartlett and then a paddle down the Saco River to Humphrey's Ledge. Racers pedal to the Appalachian Mountain Club's Pinkham Notch Visitor Center before a hike to the floor of the Ravine where a skier or snowboarder then grunts to the start of the gates for a schuss down. The twist? There's a new less demanding challenge called Wildcat Wildfire that has the same start point, but begins an hour later and finishes at Wildcat Mountain ski area instead of Tuckerman. The racer or volunteer who best exemplifies team spirit will receive the new Steve Eastman Memorial Award in honor of the long time Mount Washington Valley publisher of The Mountain Ear, who died of brain cancer last year at age 58. Register for the race at friendsoftuckerman.org.

Spare change
Attitash has dropped lift tickets to $39 for Fridays in the month of March, while nearby Black Mountain has gone to two for $29 on Fridays through the end of the month . . . Cranmore will reward drivers of hybrid vehicles with a free lift ticket and complementary VIP parking March 21 in honor of Biodiesel Day . . . Save green on St. Patrick's Day with $17 lift tickets at Vermont's Mad River Glen (wear green for discount) and New Hampshire's Black Mountain and Waterville Valley. Tickets are $39 at Sunday River March 17 . . . College students pay $39 midweek at Sugarloaf and Sunday River in March . . . Boston's nonprofit Youth Enrichment Services (YES) is holding the Massachusetts Snow Challenge at Wachusett in Princeton March 21. The fund-raiser features teams of racing down a NASTAR course. Sign up at yeskids.org . . . Kids Pay Their Age Days (ages 6 to 18) are slated for March 15, 22, 29, and April 12 at Sunday River.

Globe correspondent T.D. Thornton contributed to this report.

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