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Alaska skiers are going places in a hurry

Two 14-year-old girls who grew up racing as teammates in the Alyeska Ski Club will compete as rivals this week in the U16 Western Region alpine ski championships on Alyeska's slopes.

Juliette Parke of the Intermountain Division and Margo Lane of the Alaska Division aren't exactly Montague and Capulet. The alpine race world is close-knit, and so Parke remains friends with many of her former teammates even though she left Alaska last year to train in Utah.

On paper, Parke is among this week's favorites and could contend for the podium when racing begins Tuesday in Girdwood.

She often dominated age-group and junior races at Alyeska before leaving last fall for Rowmark Academy in Salt Lake City -- the ski academy Juneau downhiller Hilary Lindh attended on her way to becoming a world champion and an Olympic silver medalist.

But don't count out Lane, who has tons of personality and exuberance which, when harnessed, can produce fast runs. Last Friday, she won set the pace in both runs of a giant slalom tuneup at Alyeska, beating some fast U18 skiers in the process.

The two are a study in contrasts. Both race in Head boots, but Parke's are factory white while Lane's are bright green. "I spray-painted mine," Lane explained.

Parke is measured in manner, the reserved one who focuses her energy on skiing fast. She tries to bring the same mentality to training as she does to racing.

Lane is the extrovert, on course and off.

"My coaches tell me to quiet my upper body," she said.

Yet they have much in common. Both started skiing when they were 2 or 3. Both love the rush of going fast and the satisfaction of making precise turns. Both love competition and getting good results.

Said Parke: "I love to look at the scoreboard when I finish."

Said Lane: "I love getting to the bottom as fast as I can and thinking, 'I'm done.' ''


Bob Eastaugh of the Alyeska Ski Club contributed to this report.



Anchorage Daily News