Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Nicola Rountree-Williams has won the 2018 OPA Cup (Organisation des Pays Alpines) women’s giant slalom alpine ski race in Malbun, Liechtenstein.
The OPA Cup, formerly known as The 7 Nations Cup, is the premier international U16 alpine ski competition and includes the top men and women U16 racers from across Europe. The U.S. Ski Team attends with the United States’ top U16 athletes as an invited guest. The OPA Cup includes one giant slalom race day and one slalom race day.
After the first GS run, Rountree-Williams held fifth place, with Michelle Valentini of Italy in the lead. Rountree-Williams took the top spot with a solid second run edging out Delia Durrer of Switzerland to win by only .06 seconds. Caitlin MacFarlane of France placed third, finishing .24 seconds off the pace.
“It was one of the most difficult hills I’ve ever raced on,” Rountree-Williams said. “I had a solid first GS run but knew I really had to go for it on the secodnd run to make the podium. The second GS course was a little more open and I just let my skis go and it paid off. I didn’t finish my SL race but I’m making nice progress in attacking slalom runs and creating more speed. My homework and challenge is to learn how to maintain that speed over the full course and hold on to the finish.”
Rountree-Williams qualified to represent the U.S. through the U.S. Ski Team National Performance Series (NPS) Program. The NPS Program seeks to grow and support American junior alpine ski athletes by bringing the top U16 alpine men and women from all regions of the U.S. together periodically to train and compete. Performing well gives athletes the opportunity to represent the U.S. in international competition.
This season, NPS athletes attended a week-long training camp at Copper Mountain, Colo. and a second camp with two slalom and two giant slalom time trials at Burke Mountain, Vermont. At Burke, Rountree-Williams achieved two fourth-place finishes in slalom and a first and a second place in GS, giving her the highest cumulative point total among the 25 U16 women, earning her a spot on the 2018 OPA Cup Team. Five other women and six men from around the country also qualified.
Rountree-Williams heads back to Europe in April to compete in the 16th International Silvretta Schuler Cup ski race in Samnaun, Switzerland, where she will likely compete against some of the same athletes again.