Ahwahnee’s Emerson Action, 11, opened the ski race season as Queen of the Hill - At least for one day. Action, a 6th grader at Wasuma Elementary School, who has been downhill skiing since she was five years-old, beat out close to 80 other girls at the Jan. 10, Under 12 North Series Giant Slalom race at Lake Tahoe’s Alpine Meadows Ski Resort.
Some of California and Nevada’s best under 12 ski racers began their United State Ski Association’s Far West North Series season at Alpine Meadows. Slalom races are the most technically challenging of ski race events, requiring quick actions, extreme coordination, and fearless aggression.
Each racer had two runs down the 54-gate course (with a vertical drop of 105 meters), with the combined times of the two races determining the ranking of the racers. It was the 4-foot-6, 82-pound Action that sat atop the score board and the end of the day with a two-run time of 1:42.75, beating out second place skier Gabriela Kogler’s time of 1:43.58.
Racing for the Diamond Peak Ski Team, two of Action’s team mates, Kaelin Woodruff, and Taly Mancuso, finished 9th and 11th, with times of 1:50.16, and 1:50.87, respectfully.
The first place finish is a huge accomplishment, especially when you consider Action’s practice time has been limited this winter due to the lack of snow at Badger Pass, her home course, and Ahwahnee has never been known as a ‘hot spot’ for competitive downhill slalom racers. The poor snow conditions at Badger Pass and throughout the Central Valley, and Central Series ski race circuit, forced her to seek consistent and predictable race conditions. She travels back and forth from Ahwahnee to the Lake Tahoe North region weekly to compete against the best young ski racers in the Far West.
The majority of her competitors are connected with well-known ski teams in the world class ski mecca of Lake Tahoe, and some of the racers come from families of competitive racers. They know the majority of the other races in their age division, and they spend hours upon hours on the slopes of Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Mammoth Mountain, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Diamond Peak, and North Star with dreams of becoming the next ski racer sensation.
While standing in the crowd near the finish line, Action’s mother overheard a couple people say “Who’s that Emerson Action and where did she come from?”
Action, a straight-A 6th grader at Wasuma Elementary School who has completed Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth, was not a little surprised with her fist place finish.
For six years, Action has been learning and refining her ski skills with the Yosemite Ski Team at Badger Pass. Diamond Peak is a small ski resort reminiscent of Badger Pass, and Action says she will always consider Badger Pass her ‘home mountain.’
“I was really excited to win, and also happy to help make a name for the Yosemite Ski Team and Badger Pass,” Action said. “The Yosemite Winter Club helps me with a sponsorship and I hope I made them proud.”
A former champion of the Central Sierras when she was in the Under 10 division, Action has her eyes focused on the next level of ski racing competition. She is coached by former Olympian, Canadian National Champion, and World University Games Champion, Josee Lacasse, of the Diamond Peak Ski Team. Lacasse is a legendary coach in the Lake Tahoe Region, known for preparing young athletes for their road to the US Ski Team.
Action, who is the daughter of Eugene and Shannon Action, will race in another Giant Slalom competition this Saturday and Sunday at Squaw Valley.