This week saw the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Denver Pioneers are well represented in multiple sports. The first sport to see a Pioneer in action was Alpine Skiing and the Men’s Super-G on Monday. Denver Alum Trevor Phillip (’15) of Team Canada powered through the challenging course to a top-10 finish. This was Trevor’s 3rd Olympic Games, having competed in Sochi 2014 & PyeongChang 2018 games. We will see Trevor compete again in Men’s Alpine Combined on Wednesday.
Tuesday saw the “marquee” event for Pioneer fans, as the Women’s Slalom saw two Pioneer legends, Andrea Komsic & Amelia Smart, and current Pioneer skier Katie Hensien competing. In what could best be described as “craziness”, the course is named “Ice River” for a reason. In a 100% man-made course, some of the top skiers in the world did not survive. Mikaela Shiffrin only made four or five gates before skiing off course and may skip her final race, super-G, due to safety concerns with the icy course.
The top-ranked racers earn the privilege of starting early in the start order, which provides the advantage of having a nice smooth course to race on. However, this was not the case last night’s at the giant slalom. The “Ice River” chewed up and spit out the best of the best, so it became anyone’s race to win.
The first Pioneer out the start gate was Amelia Smart (’21). Making her Olympic debut for Team Canada, Smart started in the 26th spot and had a solid first run. She attacked the difficult course and finished the first run in a tie for 28th. Next up was Katie Hensien starting 40th. Hensien was making her Olympic debut for Team USA. Hensien skied a very solid first run and was sitting in the 30th position for a while before being bumped into 31st. Typically in World Cup races, only the top 30 get to come back for the 2nd run, however, in the Olympics all athletes that finish the first run get to have a second run. Almost right behind Katie was the final Pioneer out the start gate with Andrea Komsic (’20) wearing bib #42. Komsic is a seasoned veteran, competing in her 3rd Olympics for Team Croatia. Komsic pulled out of the Olympic Giant Slalom event due to an injury but was determined to start yesterday’s Slalom. Andrea started out the first run attacking the course hard but, unfortunately, straddled a gate about halfway through the course and did not finish.
In the second run, Amelia was second out of the gate and continued her strong skiing from the first run, and was able to move up a couple of places into 26th place. Katie went out the starting gate and skied a stronger run than she did the first run. Katie ended up bumping Amelia out of 26th place by only .01 seconds, allowing the Pioneers to be right next to each other on the final results.
.@DU_Pioneers senior @KatieHensien is making her Olympic debut in Beijing ⛷️ She is the first female alpine skier to represent both @DU_Skiing and @TeamUSA in more than 50 years! 🇺🇸 #9sports #Beijing2022 @usskiteam @UofDenver
— 9NEWS Sports Denver (@9NEWSSports) February 8, 2022
Overall, both Katie & Amelia should be very happy with their performances in their first, of what will most likely be many, Olympics. Finishing in the top 30 in a race where about a third of the starters did not even finish is a win in my book. I look forward to seeing Katie back on the DU Ski Team for NCAA Nationals next month, most likely before due to no World Cup races for another month, and Amelia continuing her rise in the ranks. We will see our other Pioneers compete in the coming days, as cross-country skiing, men’s hockey, and more alpine skiing get underway in Beijing.