gate weasels 

By Christie Pashby At 6:15 last Saturday morning, Tony and Jean Alton were skiing down the side of the Dave Murray Downhill course with their Weasel team by the light of a single head lamp. Their Weasel job was to put the panels up on all the gates and then watch the gates during the races. "We put up fully half the course in the dark," says Tony. "Then we skied the rest of the way down in the breaking light and waited at Dusty's for the sign to go back up." They did a lot of waiting over the weekend and never once saw a racer pass their gates. Rising at four o'clock in the morning, laying the course out and then taking their positions, the gate keepers spent many hours testing their patience. "On Friday, we were up flagging the course at 6," says Jean. "We stood there until about 2 in the afternoon." What did they do all those hours to stay warm, awake and sane? "I watched a lot of clouds go by," says Tony. "Lots of visiting, having fun and fooling around." This year the Altons convinced their friend of thirty years, Horst Gross, a retired teacher and ski coach from Ontario, to come out and join the Weasel fun. "I said to Horst, 'The year you retire, you're coming out to do the World Cup with me,'" Tony says. That meant lots of laughs and good times were had on the course, even though no race came off. "I got to do my exercises while I was waiting for the race," Horst says. "The Weasels are super nice people. I made a lot of friends." Three days worth of anticipation kept the group excited even though the gate keepers were sometimes alone and unaware of all the updates on schedules and race postponements. "What we do is try to get as close as we can to anybody with a radio," Tony says. In the end, the gate keepers say the visibility really was too poor for the race to be run safely. "There are many different opinions, we got most of our information from one of the Weasels in the know," Horst says. "But in the end, it really wasn't safe to run the race." "I was in a place that was so foggy I couldn't see the next gate," Tony agrees. "It was just nuts."


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