At the end of a grueling ski season, Haley Cutler has found just the boost she needed.
Cutler won the U-19 national title in the super G on March 1 and opened the U.S. Alpine Championships on home snow Wednesday with an eighth-place finish in the alpine combined.
“It makes me want to keep going,” Cutler said. “Sometimes you’re unsure if you want to keep doing the sport that you do, but after getting a result like this and being confident in myself, it makes me want to strive for more.”
She’ll compete in the super G on Thursday — a race that will air Saturday on NBC (10:30 a.m. MT) and the discipline that has been her best in recent weeks. She has finished ninth, fourth, first, third and first at various levels in her last five super Gs.
She also plans to ski in the slalom Friday and the giant slalom Sunday.
“I’m racing all of them,” she said. “I’m just going to go for it in all of them.”
Cutler drew from the energy of the hometown crowd Wednesday. She crossed the line in ninth place in the super G and moved up one spot in the overall standings with the ninth-fastest slalom run.
She has skied at Sun Valley since she was 2, skis on the runs that are being used in competition this week whenever she’s home and graduated from Wood River High in 2015.
“Just coming down and hearing the crowd scream for me, it’s so cool,” she said. “It gets me energized. It makes me happy.”
The super G course was built on the Warm Springs and Greyhawk runs. It features gates that are closer together than a traditional super G, a bank the skiers have to navigate and a steep drop into the finish area.
“These are pretty hard,” Cutler said. “That’s how it always is on Greyhawk. I ski on Greyhawk every day (when I’m home).”
Cutler has spent the season bouncing between events in Canada and across the West. She hopes to use the momentum she’s built this season to make a run at the U.S. Ski Team in the next couple years.
She chose ski racing over college.
“I’m so tired right now,” she said. “I’ll have a little more (racing) after this, but this is definitely the big bang at the end.”
Galena Wardle, 17, a U.S. Ski Team member from Aspen, Colo., won her first ever national title Wednesday.
The men’s and women’s super G is Thursday.
Bald Mountain, Ketchum
Women’s Alpine Combined (top 10)
1. Galena Wardle 1:18.94, 45.50, 2:04.44
2. Megan McJames 1:18.52, 45.94, 2:04.46
3. Patricia Mangan 1:18.55, 46.27, 2:04.82
4. Jacqueline Wiles 1:17.87, 47.00, 2:04.87
5. Anna Marno 1:17.99, 47.71, 2:05.70
6. Nellie Rose Talbot 1:18.23, 47.56, 2:05.79
7. Nina O’Brien 1:20.71, 45.42, 2:06.13
8. Haley Cutler 1:19.34, 47.51, 2:06.85
9. Breezy Johnson 1:19.50, 47.56, 2:07.06
10. Abby Ghent 1:20.23, 47.15, 2:07.38
▪ Thursday: Men’s and women’s super G (men’s race at 10 a.m. and women’s race at 1:30 p.m.). Awards, opening ceremony and parade of athletes at 4:30 p.m. at Ketchum Town Square.
▪ Friday: Men’s and women’s slalom (women’s runs at 9 a.m. and noon, men’s runs at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.). Awards at 2:30 p.m. The Sun Valley Big Air Exhibition is 4:30 p.m. at Dollar Mountain. Snowboard big air joins the Olympics in 2018.
▪ Saturday: Men’s giant slalom (runs at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.) Awards at 2:30 p.m. Baldy Bash street party at 3 p.m. Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin will sign autographs at the Brass Ranch at River Run from 4 to 5 p.m.
▪ Sunday: Women’s giant slalom (runs at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.). Awards at 1:30 p.m.