The giant slalom season kicked off on Super Bowl weekend for the 12 and under Far West boys at Squaw Valley.
The competition level jumped up a notch when the Rocky Mountain Division of Vail Mountain arrived to give the Far West racers a run for their money, but the South Shore kids held their own.
Without new snow, the course had firmed into glacier-like conditions making wrecks all too real. Despite the icy conditions, Heavenly Foundation skier Tyler Madero turned in a solid first run. It was good enough for fourth, with the top three spots going to a Vail racer, a Mammoth racer and Isaac Mozen, of Squaw Valley.
Going into the second run, Madero and teammate Gunnar Barnwell decided to trade skis.
The ski swap panned out for Madero. He turned in the second fastest time of the day on the new skis. It was four seconds faster than his first run, and put him in a fourth-place tie with Cameron Smith, of Squaw Valley.
Gunnar Barnwell skied well, but lost time on an icy turn, placing 53rd after two tentative runs.
Heavenly's youngest Far West Racer, MJ Allen, attacked the course. A tricky exchange over a road, however, confused his direction and he blasted by two gates on the pitch, disqualifying him.
Sunday, with Super Bowl excitement and crowds packing the patio and finish area, the U12 boys hit the slopes for a second day of racing. There was hope the sun would make the course a bit more forgiving, but no chance. Even former US Ski Team member and Squaw Valley manager Todd Kelly was overheard saying, "the course is still bullet proof," as his son Max struggled with the pitch.
Heavenly's new transplant from Argentina, however, is well versed in steeps and ice and showed all but two others how to ride the rails to the podium. His podium finish comes on the heels of a second-place slalom finish at Sugar Bowl earlier this season.
Madero was able to keep the Squaw Valley team off the podium on day two of the series, taking home the bronze. Gold was won by Vail, and silver by Mammoth Mountain.
"In a race with more than 80 racers from all over the state and as far away as Vail, he turned in the third fastest time of the day, and only a few tenths separated first, second and third," coach Billy Barnwell said.
Gunnar Barnwell moved up to 41st on the second day, and MJ Allen had two respectable runs to finish 67th.
Next week, the young racers travel to the Central Series to ski in the Ryan Lavagnino Classic held at Dodge Ridge.