Far West U14 athletes from around the Tahoe Basin met at Squaw Valley over the blue-sky weekend to compete in the third race of the season, the parallel. Giant slalom gates, or panel gates, are set approximately every 15 meters, with a similar course set adjacent to it.
Frozen spectators witnessed an exciting race on Exhibition as two skiers raced side by side, each in his or her own course with every inch in the full view of the crowd. While each course has its own timing system, so technically participants only race against the clock, racers still attempt to beat the athlete they pair with at the start.
It was a cold weekend of spectacular crashes and close finishes on hard snow conditions for the 150 ski racers who competed.
"This race was essentially a sprint," said Diamond Peak Ski Foundation Coach Mark Norton. "The short, 30-second course requires athletes to be tight on the panel and keep their skis in the fall line. This means taking risks."
Some of those risks paid off for the Diamond Peak racers, with several earning top-15 and podium finishes.
On Saturday, Diamond Peak's men's team sparkled with three racers in the top five. Casey Delaney's combined time of 1:06.75 landed him at the top of the podium. Teammate Payton Norton's solid runs earned him third place (1:08.08), followed by Winston Pretti in fourth, just .06 seconds behind (1:08.14). Dashiell Prince-Judd of Sugar Bowl was second (1:07.38).
On Sunday, Prince-Judd took the win (1:04.05) and Delaney came in second (1:04.79) and Norton a close third (1:04.81). Diamond Peak's team continued to show its strength in the U14 boys with Noah Cleary placing 12th (1:10.25) on Saturday and 19th (1:07.41) on Sunday, followed by Corey Huber (23, 23).
Other teammates racing at Squaw also skied well: Nick Fischer (24, 35), Tommy Corcoran (32, 42), Daniel D'Olimpio (38, DNF), Connor Huber (39, 41), Bodie Glavish (40, 53), Trent Funke (41, 50), Jeff Miller (43, DNF) and Tim Novak (DNS, 57).
"There is a lot of depth in this 12-13-year-old age class (U14), and our kids continue to dazzle the coaches with their dedication, camaraderie and spirit," said DPSF Coach Raquel Norton.
The Diamond Peak ladies skied solidly both days. DPSF racer Madison Idso led her teammates on Saturday with a 17th place (1:12.23), with Bridgette Johnson right on her heels in 18th (1:12.38), Emily Donahue 21st (1:12.79), Sophia Holm 23rd (1:13.20), and Laurel Taylor 26th (1:14.29).
Taylor fired up on Sunday and really pulled out the stops to post a fast enough combined time (1:08.96) to place 15th. Donahue showed her consistency with a 20th-place finish (1:09.97), and Johnson was not far off in 30th (1:11.75). Unfortunately, both Idso and Holm had crashes and did not finish on Sunday. Teammates Rachel Meyer (50, 49) and Katie Fisher (67, 62) had repeatedly consistent runs.
The team is now looking forward to racing at Alpine Meadows on March 2-3, when the U14 athletes race super G.