Heavenly skiers head into Alaska for Junior Olympics | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Heavenly skiers head into Alaska for Junior Olympics

Courtesy of Kimber Allen

Six South Shore athletes will be competing against some of the best skiers in the U.S. this week.

Members of the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation team are deep in Alyeska, Alaska, right now for the USAA/ Western Region Marriott U-16 Junior Championships, formerly known as the Junior Olympics.

Maia Bickert, Mikaela Clothier, Michael Gardner, Natalie Williams, Austin Allen and Alec Jobbins will be competing in slalom, giant slalom and super G against some fierce future Olympic talent this Tuesday through Friday.

Tough competition is nothing new for these kids though.

Throughout the ski season, the Heavenly kids have consistently finished in the top 15. They are among the top 23 girls and the top 26 boys who qualified out of about 225 athletes for this Junior Championship competition.

Beyond the competition lies a group of kids who, for the most part, have skied together since they were 5 and 6 years old. Their racer days go as far back as the "Kinder Kup" races at Heavenly Ski Resort.

Determination is no stranger to this group of athletes on and off the snow. Their accomplishments have come with adversity and triumph. This group of athletes has overcome rigorous training schedules, as well as injuries. The team often has textbooks opened in between their afternoon and night training sessions to maintain their high academic standards.

"A big thank you goes out to the to the staff and faculty of South Tahoe High School and Whittell High School. Your support for these athletes contributes to their success," said Kimber Allen, who has been there every step of the way since the kids' Kinder Cup days.

"The bond they share as a team is evident in the way they constantly support and encourage each other. Along with their coaches, Noel Dufty and Kyle Kracht, the parents and family members are perhaps their biggest cheerleaders."

As the plane touched down in Anchorage, Alaska, the surrounding wild terrain blew the skiers away.

"Just landed. This place is amazing," Austin Allen said.

"In most places when you land all you see is buildings and streets of concrete…not here," teammate Clothier said. "All you see for miles is mountains and wilderness…it's beautiful."

It will be an Alaskan adventure for the books, and back home parents and family members are looking forward to hearing about what lies ahead for these athletes.

Access to the results will be posted on the Far West website fwskiing.org

UP NEXT: Catch these Junior Olympians in action the Far West Slalom Championships at Heavenly Mountain Resort on April 8 and 9.