ASPEN, Colo. – Tuva Norbye thought her race days were behind her. The 25-year-old Norwegian had retired last season following a couple of years competing on the Europa Cup circuit after graduating from the University of Denver in 2019.
Friday was the first she’d heard about Sunday’s World Pro Ski Tour race in Aspen, which happened to be the first women’s race of the tour in more than 20 years. On a whim, she decided to try it, making the trip from Salt Lake City, where she is currently pursuing a Masters degree.
With 11 women competing on Sunday, including several current college athletes, a couple of pre-university rippers and fellow retirees, Norbye surprised herself from the get-go. She began the day by throwing down the fastest start time in qualifying and then proceeded to dominate every single head-to-head run. She took down fellow University of Utah student Katie Vesterstein in the quarterfinals, then squeaked by University of Colorado’s Kaitlyn Harsch in two tight runs of the semis before facing Caroline Jones from the University of Vermont in the finals. Jones came into Sunday’s race fresh off of a FIS giant slalom podium in Vail and had the Norwegian pulling out every ounce of her reserve energy.
Tuva Norbye crashes through the finish to win the women’s World Pro Ski Tour opener in Aspen Sunday. Photo: Mintz/SRM
Norbye actually slid onto her hip near the end of the first final run, miraculously recovering to make the gate and take the lead. She charged so hard through exhaustion in the final run that she hooked a hand on the final gate, spun and crashed over the finish line for the win.
“Oh my God, I was so tired at the end,” Norbye said. “I used to be a lot stronger than I am right now. I can tell I’m still really competitive. Even if I’m really tired, I still want to reach the finish line, even if I just reach it.”
Norbye notched numerous podiums and a handful of victories in giant slalom and slalom as a university racer and also landed several podiums on the NorAm circuit, although her only NorAm victory – as well as her only Europa Cup podium – happened to be in parallel slalom.
“I haven’t done it too much,” she said of the discipline. “I don’t think many girls have done it a lot here in the U.S., but I remember doing a NorAm like three years ago and I actually won that one, so I guess I just like the parallel. I like seeing someone on the side of me because it really gets me going and the competitiveness is just coming. I think it’s awesome. I hadn’t skied much this winter, so it’s awesome to get the opportunity to do something like this.”
Norbye walked away with a $10,000 prize purse for her efforts.
“I never actually thought I’d win the $10,000,” she said, adding that she wasn’t quite sure yet how she’d spend it. “I’m in my Masters right now, so it helps paying for that. I have to do something fun, I just don’t know what yet.”
When asked if she would be competing in the next women’s WPST in Steamboat Springs next month, Norbye said it’s definitely on her radar after Sunday’s success.
“I want to now, yeah, for sure,” she said.
It was an exciting day of racing with a couple of other athletes contributing to the harrowing side of the action. Local racer Galena Wardle was charging so hard in her semi-final run against Jones that she caught an edge just before a jump and flew over it sideways, but recovered enough to put on a strong performance in the small final against Harsch, who ended up charging ahead by a couple of tenths to beat her and round out the podium as Wardle took fourth.
Women’s World Pro Ski Tour racing continues next month at Steamboat’s Howelsen Hill on Feb. 14.
-Ski Racing Media