Both the boys and girls ski racing teams at GHS placed top-ten at Southington Mountain on Jan. 18, but it was an impressive feat by Alex Bulger that highlighted the night.
Glastonbury High School ski racer Alex Bulger placed outside the top-ten during the Guardians competition on Jan.18, yet it was his memorable performance on his second run that left an impression on the spectators at Southington Mountain.
Bulger, who finished his first run with a time of 23.56, lost one of his skis during the early stages of his second run and was forced to travel the rest of the way down the mountain using just one ski.
The result was a herculean effort, crossing the finish line on one leg with a time of 24.80.
GHS head coach Tom Zelek called Bulger’s balancing act “quite remarkable.”
“As I was watching him from the bottom of the race hill I was perplexed as to why the usual flawless ski racing form he displays was not in evidence. Suddenly I realized he was only on one ski,” recalled Zelek. “Alex maneuvered amazingly down the rest of the race hill, navigating ten more gates on one ski before crossing the finish line.”
Zelek added that the fans in attendance were all cheering in unison when Bulger reached the bottom of the mountain.
Bulger’s quick problem solving prevented disqualification and allowed him to finish with a time that was less than a second slower than his first time.
It also proved to be the fastest time of any Glastonbury skier besides himself on the night and was less than three seconds behind the best overall run of the night.
"When my ski fell off I had to make a snap decision,” stated Bulger. “Either go back and put the ski back on or continue to go down on one ski to get as good a time as possible for the team.”
He chose the latter and the result was an awe-inspiring run and a potential story for the grandkids.
During the difficult situation, Bulger was able to lean on his plenty of experience on the slopes.
He has been skiing since the age of two and began skiing in New Hampshire for the Mount Sunapee team when he was six — competing in both the slalom and giant slalom.
Zelek added that Bulger normally places top-five during races when he has the luxury of using both skis and that he recently started competing in moguls, allowing him to rebound quickly when he lost his ski going through a relatively deep rut caused by the conditions.
“The fact that he did it on his second run means that the course was in much more challenging shape because over 100 racers had already gone down it creating a lot of ruts and difficult terrain,” stated Zelek.
Bulger also said he found inspiration from one of his coaches and mentors in New Hampshire, Jason Lalla, who has always skied on one ski.
“I think in the moment he was my inspiration to ski down on one ski," Bulger said of Lalla, who was a gold medalist in Giant Slalom the 1998 at the Paralympic Winter Games in Japan and later added silver and bronze medals at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City.
Bulger’s memorable performance highlighted another solid performance for the GHS skiers.
The boys’ team finished the night in 7th place of the 13 teams competing. Along with Bulger placing 13th overall, senior captain Nathan Zimbelman and freshman Leyton Bulger also had Top-25 finishes. Rounding out the scoring for the boys varsity team were freshmen Kory Wells and Alex Karwowski and senior Tim Kohlun, all finishing in the top 100 out of the 213 boys competing.
The girls’ team finished in 8th place overall amongst the 12 teams competing. Sophomore Ainsley Latz led the way by placing 19th of the 179 girls racing. Freshman Clementine Citroen and junior Eva Giliberto finished in the top 50 of everyone racing on this night. Rounding out the top GHS finishers were Lizzy Stutz, Kaitlyn Schaffner, Julia Wold and Mallory Jennings.
Zelek has been impressed with how his team has competed throughout the first two races, saying they have adjusted to the adverse conditions because of a lack of natural snow.
“Mother nature has not cooperated,” added Zelek. “The ski area has done the best they could but the courses deteriorate rapidly throughout the race because of the thin layer of snow, warm temperatures and soft snow.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin