They may have been bad conditions, but for Charley Field, at least they were familiar conditions.
Forced to race in "crappy" snow in Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association giant slalom action at the Seawolf Invitational at Alyeska Resort on Jan. 25, the Pemberton skier posted a third-place finish for her first career NCAA podium.
"It was a pretty warm day and it was the first time all season that we got rain. It rained halfway up the chair and then snowed the other half. It was definitely very difficult for everyone. It was a little peel-y, a little soft... but a lot of us were used to training on that type of snow in that type of weather, so that really helps, too. A lot of us have already done it before," she said. "It was great to see all of us take advantage of the conditions."
In addition to the less-than-ideal snow conditions, Field noted the course was also steep in the beginning, which presented its own challenge.
Field, who is in her junior year at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, was thrilled to make the impact she did at her home hill.
"It feels pretty good because that was probably my last time to race at my home hill that I've been skiing at for the last three years," she said. "It's been a long couple years coming that I've been pushing at the podium, so it definitely was well deserved."
Before entering last weekend's action, Field's best NCAA result was seventh — a number she'd hit three times in her first two seasons and twice more this year. As part of the two sevenths this season, Field put up podium-worthy times in the second run, but unfortunately, was already a couple seconds behind after the first. However, she felt she could put it all together.
"Leading up to (the Seawolf Invitational), I was feeling pretty confident of being able (to do well) on the ski run we were skiing on, being our home hill. That just led to a good day," she said.
After feeling out the NCAA a bit in her first two years, everything is starting to click for Field, as she's used to the competition sites and those she's now up against.
"I'm just finally adjusting to the college circuit," she said. "I know the terrain and the competition and feeling confident in my skiing. That's what happens after the quality of training, and as much training as we do."
Field is currently in Colorado for a set of NorAm races, and she'll return to the state later in February for the regional qualifiers with a trip to the NCAA Championships on the line.
"I would love to be an all-American, which is top eight in the discipline," she said.
The NCAA Championships will take place in March at New Hampshire's Cannon Mountain.