Hunter Wonders and Luke Jager are participating in the OPA Cup Trip with Team USA, this trip is supported by NNF.
Hunter and Luke Blog Post:
On the 27th the team all met up in Geneva and loaded into the vans to head to Les Brassus where we would be racing in the weekend. The venue was pretty much right on the border between France and Switzerland, so we opted to stay on the French side where lots of the other teams would be staying. The first days we were treated to bluebird skies and t shirt skiing temps. It was sweet to check out the venue, where Youth Olympic Games will be held next year, and start to get the course dialed. The course was tightly packed into a small area with lots of fast downhills and steep climbs which made it super spectator friendly and really fun to ski. We were super stoked to get a chance to race on such legit, technical, and fun courses.
The day before racing started, our streak of sunny days came to a pretty abrupt end and we woke up to rain and sleet coming down pretty hard. This caused the snow at the venue to turn pretty mooshy and made testing skis a little bit challenging, but we left confident that our waxing crew was gonna be able to get us skis that would be in the game the following day.
The hotel we were staying at was right next to a little ski resort which got quite packed when it was sunny out. We shared the hotel with a small army of young kids on some sort of a winter holiday with their families. Every night, the hotel would host some sort of a disco party or something for the kids which lasted surprisingly long and was surprisingly loud. It was all good fun, but by the end of our time there we were definitely ready to never hear some of those songs again.
Hunter Wonders | Photo: Bryan Fish
The weekend of racing started off super well with Novie locking down on a podium in the junior girl’s race and Sydney, and Waverly coming in with solid top 15 results. Immediately after, Hailey and Katie both threw down and Hailey even managed to come away with a podium in 3rd place. The boys were definitely super stoked to get out there after seeing the girls do so well. Both of us went out there and battled in the slop as hard as we could but couldn’t quite live up to the bar the girls had set. We definitely struggled a little bit in the soft snow but were able to hold it together well enough for solid enough performances in a stacked field and good groups to ski with in the pursuit the next day.
The next day was a pursuit format race. This just meant that the winner from the previous day would go out first and be chased by the whole field at varying times depending on time back the day before. We were all happy to wake up and see that it was no longer raining and that the sun was starting to show itself again. The clear and colder skies overnight led to super firm, bulletproof snow on the race course. This made classic waxing a little bit tricky, but as usual, our boys were able to give us some sick skis that were at the top end of the field. Sydney unfortunately caught a bug the day before so didn’t race the pursuit, but Novie held it down and fought hard to hold on to her second place. Waverly fought hard and started off super strong but took a couple of hard spills on the very unforgiving and icy course. She was lucky to walk away with just some nasty cuts and bruises thankfully, and as of now she has even gotten all the bloodstains out of her race suit. In the u23 race, both Hailey and Katie skied hard in their very competitive field. Hailey came away with another podium after a hard fight with a big pack of skiers. The dudes both managed to move up a few spots and have a better day than Saturday.
It was really sweet to get to compete in such competitive fields which are home to some of the fastest skiers in the world and to see that we are so close to the top level and know what it takes to get there. We are so thankful to have the opportunity to be here at all and are very conscious to not take it for granted. We really are living the dream and are so thankful for every single person who has helped us get here. It was good to get the engines revved up last weekend, now we’re excited to really throw down in Germany at OPA finals next week!
Ski trails along a mountainside lake, with a swan! Photo: Bryan Fish
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This is my first time out of the U.S. and competing at the U18 Scando Cup in Finland. This has been the best experience and I am so motivated to get to the next level. Kittos (Thanks in Finnish)- Mattie Watts