Athletes from the South and Central Divisions met up with the North Division to compete in the U14 Far West Championship Series last week.
Nearly 200 athletes, ages 12 and 13, competed in the slalom, super G, giant slalom and parallel spread through four days at Sugar Bowl Resort. Athletes from the South Shore represented teams from Kirkwood, Heavenly and Diamond Peak.
Day 1 slalom
The weather couldn’t have been worse for the first day slalom. The rain turned to snow, back to rain, and then fog. Visibility was already poor before athlete’s goggles began fogging up.
Diamond Peak’s Winston Pretti stole the show, winning the slalom by nearly 5 seconds overall. However, South Shore was represented well by athletes Haley Louis, Madison Idso, Dylan Gooding and brothers Connor and Corey Huber and Payton Norton.
Norton, who also skis for Diamond Peak, had the second fastest time the first run, but made a costly mistake on the second run that dropped him to 11th. Teammate Corey Huber, however, had two great runs to solidify sixth place, with brother Connor placing 22nd.
Madison Idso nearly broke the top 15 with a 17th in the slalom. Gooding, of the Heavenly Ski Foundation, had the fourth fastest time on the first run, but like Norton, he made a huge error the second run resulting in him missing a gate. He had to hike back, which dropped him to 24th.
Heavenly athletes Luke Allen placed 41st, Logan Langemeier placed 55th and Sean Dunkelman had a rough day with a crash in the first run, followed by a hike in the second. Cypress Sell, Heavenly’s only female competitor, was 48th.
“I’ve known all these kids for a long time and know they’re all capable of putting some fast runs together. Unfortunately, it takes two runs,” said DPSEF Coach Raquel Norton.
Kirkwood skier Hailey Louis, who turned in a tremendous performance at the Championship Series, started off with a solid 11th place for the girls. For the Kirkwood boys, Jamie Holmstrom placed in the top 20, with a 19th-place finish, followed by teammates Daniel Drapeau in 39th and Ben Weisel 42nd. Brynna Reilly, also of Kirkwood, placed 56th, Grace Holmstrom, 64th, and Anna Weisel did not finish the slalom.
Day 2 super giant slalom
The next day, athletes came prepared with rain ponchos and coaches came with dish gloves. The rain, however, had finally subsided. Cool winds helped the salt set the super G course on Rhalves Run, but if athletes got off line the track would be a lot slower.
After the morning training run, athletes lined up to take their one and only race run. Girls went first, and Kirkwood’s Louis got it done. Loius just missed the podium with a fourth, followed by teammates Anna Weisel 76th, and Holmstrom 78th. Diamond Peak’s Idso placed 35th, while Heavenly’s Sell placed 37th.
For the Boys, DPSEF athletes Corey Huber glided to 18th, with Norton right behind in 19th. Connor Huber unfortunately became disoriented during the long super G course and missed a gate, resulting in his disqualification. Gooding led the Heavenly boys with a 42nd place, with teammates Dunkelman finishing 61st, Allen 69th, and Langemeier 77th. Kirkwood’s Holmstrom placed 28th, Weisel tied for 48th, Drapeau 60th, and Nielsen was 73rd.
“This age group has some of the most depth as far as talent and competition compared to the other age groups. With nearly 100 athletes in each of the girls and the boys, to place in the top third says something about these athletes.” coach Norton said. “Although their great runs don’t always show up in the final results, they know it and everyone else knows how well they skied… there’s just that much depth in their field.”
Day 3 giant slalom
The good weather ran out by Day 3. Snow, hail and fog made visibility poor on Montgomery Run. Snow conditions held up, but the weather just would not comply. Flat light made it difficult for athletes to see beyond the gates directly ahead of them, but it was enough to run the race.
Louis, Norton and Huber represented the South Shore well with another strong showing in both the girls and boys events. Louis landed on the girls’ podium in third. Norton placed fourth in the boys. Corey Huber, who was fifth in his second run, fell twice and wasn’t able to secure his top five place. His brother, Connor, placed 30th. Teammate Madison Idso placed 18th for the girls. Drapeau finished a solid 28th with Nielsen 69th, but KSEF teammates Weisel (DNF) and Holmstrom (DSQ) weren’t so lucky. In the girls’ race, Anna Weisel placed 57th, sister Hailey 60th, Grace Holmstrom was 74th and Bryana Reilly DNF’d. Dylan Gooding led the Heavenly charge with a 23rd in the GS, followed by Allen 55th, Dunkelman 62nd (with a crash) and Langemeier 78th. Sell was 37th in the girls’ class.
Day 4 parallel
Relatively new to these younger athletes, the parallel is a few meters wider than traditional slalom, but shorter in distance than GS with panel gates (GS gates). Athletes don’t wear slalom guards or shin guards, but do ski on their slalom skis. Louis had her best finish of the series, finishing second in the parallel. Kirkwood teammates Anna and Hailey Weisel placed 44th and 45th, with brother Ben disqualifying. Drapeau tied Heavenly’s Gooding for 19th. Sell finished 47th for the girls, Dunkelman took 33rd, Allen 44th and Langemeier 54th. Diamond Peak’s Norton finished strong in fifth place in the parallel. Unfortunately, the Huber brothers made costly mistakes. Corey was bumped down to 34th and Connor did not finish. However, their teammate Madison Idso placed 16th, just missing the top 15 trophies by .01 of a second.
Overall season standings, along with overall championship trophies were awarded at the conclusion of the series.