Kay Miloshevich navigates a turn in one of last season's races at Winter Park. (Photo by Tom Conway.)
What is it about being on the UCAR/NCAR ski team that makes Kay Miloshevich happy? "Certainly the speed," she says with a quick grin.
Kay and nine other staff (see list below) make up one of the institution's least-known but most-dedicated groups of athletes. They enjoy friendly but spirited competition with like-sized institutions. The team's league includes MCI Denver, Arthur Andersen, and the Volant Ski Corporation. Every second or third weekend in season, the team hits the slopes somewhere in Colorado for a day of skiing that includes a one- or two-hour race.
An informal ski team began at NCAR in the late 1970s. In the mid- 1980s, this team joined the organization TEAMSKI, which specializes in corporate competitions among city-based skiers. TEAMSKI collects entry fees and provides social events and prizes along with organization for the races. Captains of each team work with U.S. Ski Association race officials to plan and operate each event. Some 3,000 amateur racers participate each year, running the gamut from "punks" (ages 21Ð29) to "ski meisters" (ages 45+).
The TEAMSKI connection gives skiers a structure to challenge their skills. A typical day's event includes back-to-back modified giant slaloms in which one person goes head-to-head with someone from another team. Each team must include six racers, at least two of them women. Speeds tend to run in the 20Ð25 mph range, not as fast as on a typical downhill course because of the additional turns required. The five fastest times are used for final standings; at least two of those must be women's scores. Participants purchase an all-day lift ticket at the host resort, which allows for lots of before- or after-competition skiing.
NCAR has fielded up to 24 people in three teams during past seasons. This year the group is down to one team, but their enthusiasm is undiminished. "Just going up there [to the event] with a bunch of friends is great," says Kay, this year's team captain. "You have somebody to ski with all day." (Kay is filling in as captain this year for Cathy Jirak, who is on what Kay calls a "knee sabbatical"). Lana Stillwell adds: "Not a lot of people take it too seriously. We just have fun. If somebody falls on the course, everybody cringes."
Safety is in fact a concern. Races at Steamboat are held on black- diamond courses (the most challenging), and often they take place during icy conditions. But team veteran Cathy says the competition is "surprisingly nondangerous considering some of the runs. We eliminated Monarch entirely--knees went out every year on that one." Each year local ski areas offer various racing clinics that provide practice starts and finishes and video analyses of racing form. Two years ago, says Kay, "four or five of us went to a clinic at Copper Mountain, got a condo, and raced gates all weekend."
Along with the fun, there can be prizes. Two years ago Kay won a $400 pair of Volant skis, one of eight pairs awarded to one man and one woman from each of the four TEAMSKI leagues. Medals go to the three fastest male and three fastest female skiers at each event, and at season's end the three top men and women in each age group receive overall medals.
The cost for all this is surprisingly low, especially with the extra skiing competitors get to enjoy on each event day. Our team members pay $20 in annual dues and $14 for each race, with half of that $14 paid for by the Employee Activities Committee. Racers also must purchase a lift ticket at each event site, usually offered at around half the published price. If you or your significant other would like to join the action this season, it's not too late. Contact Kay (ext. 8472, firstname.lastname@example.org) to sign up or to find out more. --BH
The dates of competition are:
11 December 1994--Copper Mountain
21 January--Vail (1:00 p.m.)
12 February--Winter Park (1:00 p.m.)
25 February--Breckenridge (10:00 a.m.)
Spectators are welcome at the races and at the awards parties later in the day.