Days on Mountain 1, 5,000 vertical feet, and a pin for riding the new gondola may be seen on some of the “Epic Mix Dashboards” for many Vail Valley locals. Not only was it a great first day to ski Vail yesterday, it was also a perfect day for the first giant slalom race of the year.

The “Secret Race” took place just before the afternoon “Audi Ski Challenge”. With 66 female competitors and 92 male competitors ranging in ages from 9 years old up to 24 years old, the secret is clearly out and this race is here to stay. The morning race served as a qualifier to the afternoon Audi Ski Challenge. The secret race is now in conjunction with the Audi Ski Challenge. “The Secret Race provides all of the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) athletes an opportunity to get some early competition against each other”, says SSCV Alpine Youth Program Director Rika Moore. “We invited a few other racers from teams around the area. We invited some of the top racers from Breckenridge, as well as Steamboat. So there will definitely be some great athletes out there,” says Moore. The race used to be a warm-up for SSCV during the early season but has now evolved.

The top 20 male and top 20 female racers with the fastest combined score from the Secret Race qualified for the next part of the day, the Audi Ski Challenge. The male and female winners of the Audi Ski Challenge solidified a place at the 2012/13 U.S. Alpine Championships in Squaw California. On top of landing a spot at the championships, the winners won an official 2012/13 U.S. Ski Team Jacket, three nights lodging at the U.S. Championships, lift tickets for the event, and even a flight to and from Reno. By winning the Audi Ski Challenge these athletes are receiving an all expense paid trip to the Alpine Championships. Audi is a huge supporter of alpine skiing and hosts three Audi Ski Challenges during the season for aspiring racers.

“The Audi Ski Challenge is a dual GS race that is open to the public. There is an Audi Challenge at each one of our domestic World Cup Alpine stops,” says U.S. Ski Team World Cup coordinator Lindsay Arnold. The next race will take place in Aspen next weekend followed by Beaver creek the following weekend. “We had the Nature Valley First Tracks team announcement last night which couldn’t have gone better. It is great to have an event here the next day to keep the early season racing spirit high. By joining with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail and including their secret race with our Audi Ski Challenge we continue to grow our partnership with them. Audi is the title sponsor of the FIS Alpine World Cup Tour, FIS World Championship, the associate sponsor of the FIS Alpine Championships in Squaw, and they are one of our major alpine sponsors. Audi loves ski racing and they want to be apart of it. This race is a great opportunity for aspiring athletes to get noticed and potentially win a trip from Audi to go to the Alpine Championships ” says Arnold.

22-year-old Chris Acosta from the University of New Mexico won the Audi Challenge for the male division and Erika Ghent, SSCV athlete, won the Audi Challenge for the female division. “It is motivating having the format as a dual GS for the Audi Challenge. It really comes down to the best time as the winner but it really pushes you to race someone next to in the other lane just a few yards away. I hope to use the plane tickets to fly my parents out to Reno. They haven’t seen me ski race in over four years,” says Acosta.

We are certain to see these two athletes continue to excel and hopefully perform well at the Alpine Championships in Squaw.

Girls Secret Race results can be found here.

Boys Secret Race results can be found here.

Audi Challenge Race results can be found here.