A fresh six inches of snow set the stage for the Ryan Lavagnino Classic Central Series U10-U14 GS Race at Dodge Ridge this past weekend.
Fresh off his podium at a Squaw Valley race, Tyler Madero was looking to show the Central Series racers what the Northern Series boys are made of. With ice in their veins Gunnar Barnwell and Tyler Madero showed up at Dodge Ridge on Friday, a day early so they could squeeze in an extra training day.
They had driven through the night in a snowstorm, doing math and grammar assignments in the car, to earn that extra day.
It was a gamble, but the tough trip was worth it when the Dodge Ridge coaches and staff opened their mountain to the Heavenly skiers a day early.
The Course race along Bobby's Freedom Run, a steep fall away pitch with the perfect combination of undulating rollers capped with a final drop into the finish area. It was a far cry from the mashed potatoes terrain the boys skied in training, and the groomers had obviously worked late into the night.
Under blue bird skies and a professional race tunnel at the start, the race kicked off with a blast from a Bavarian starting bell, which racers were allowed to ring as they entered the start house.
The course was just perfect, like flash frozen butter, and it held its consistency the entire race.
Despite timing issues and starting in the back of the pack, Madero and Barnwell laid down solid runs, impressing the coaching staff from all the participating mountains. The times were not posted before the second runs, but rumors spread that some kid from Heavenly had the fastest time of the day, including the U16 racers.
On the second run, Madero shattered a gate into three pieces, simultaneously hitting it with his forearm, head and shin, a feat rarely seen even in professional racing.
This forced Barnwell to cool his heels, waiting at the starting wand while the other skiers razzed him about the course maintenance his teammate had given him for his birthday.
Barnwell turned in a strong second run, making it apparent that Heavenly might have two podiums.
It wasn't until after dinner that the boys learned they had in fact captured two podium spots. Madero picked up first and Barnwell third, just barely edged out by local favorite Danny Kelsey.
A friendly rivalry between the Dodge Ridge and Tahoe boys began to brew on day two. Kirkwood skier Tyler Loll joined forces with the Heavenly boys to keep Dodge Ridge off their podiums.
After hearing a young U10 from Squaw Valley had won the previous day the boys set out to spoil the Dodge Ridge party.
With high winds blowing straight up the face, timing the start made all the difference, except Madero who left all the front runners scared of being beat showed up by a 12-year-old. But once times were posted from day one it became clear that Madero was the racer to beat. He had beaten even the eldest U16 racers by 2 seconds. Day two was no different as Madero captures first.
Kirkwood's Loll put together two solid runs for second, but two Dodge Ridge skiers managed to keep Barnwell off the podium.
UP NEXT: The racers will head to Snow Summit for the Southern Series in giant slalom and them back to the Central Series. There they will qualify for speed camp on the super giant slalom at China Peak.