Sixteen-year-old Jessica Weiner of Lawrence skis only once a year with her family, so when she found out she was one of the fastest ski racers in the state in her age group, she was a little surprised.
"I didn't think I was that fast," the Lawrence High sophomore said Sunday after finding out about her ranking. "I like to work really hard on my form, but speed isn't even one of the things I concentrate on."
During a ski trip last winter at the Keystone resort in Colorado, Jessica's parents encouraged the whole family to enter the NASTAR national standard race for fun. Jessica's parents, Ron and Penny Weiner, and her sister, Laura Weiner, 12, each earned a bronze medal in the competition.
But Jessica also received a national poster with her name on it, a special pin and a certificate naming her the 10th-fastest ski racer among all 13- to 15 year-old girls in Kansas. She also was ranked against U.S. ski team member and 1994 Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe, along with approximately 110,000 other recreational ski racers participating in the 1994-95 race program.
The timed race is offered at many ski resorts across the country and is open to skiers of every age and ability. Racers are timed on a modified slalom course.
Living in Kansas, it's hard to get involved in skiing, Jessica said, but she hopes to go to a college near the mountains that offers a competitive ski team. The family's ski trip is planned for Utah this year for the first time.
Jessica, who has been skiing since she was 5, said daily dance lessons have helped her become a good skier.
"I try to copy skiers I see in the Olympics and on TV," she said. "I like jumping and going through trees. Skiing really makes you feel free."