Three Lake Tahoe athletes not only qualified for the U18 Nationals, an elite level of ski racing, they also landed on the podium.
Tahoe skiers Garrett Driller, Hughston Norton and Ty Sprock all turned in top times at the U18 Nationals at Mammoth Mountain on Tuesday. Driller, a junior at North Tahoe High School who skis out of Squaw Valley, captured second place, and Whittell senior and fellow Squaw Valley skier Norton claimed third. Less than a tenth of a second separated Driller and Norton from first place.
Norton’s podium finish guarantees him a spot at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Squaw Valley from March 20-24. Driller’s second-place landed him as first alternate for the championship race since previous race results factor in.
“They both just have a really good natural talent, a good feel for the snow and a good feel for the fall line,” said Brad Saxe, Squaw Valley and Western Region coach. “Both of them have really level heads on race day.”
Sun Valley skier Kipling Weisel sailed into first place in 1:26.03, which was .03 faster than Driller and .05 faster than Norton. Griffin Brown of Eastern Mount Mansfield took fourth, Benjamin Throm of Aspen Valley was fifth, and Whittell senior Ty Sprock of the Treble Cone Racing Academy captured sixth.
The Squaw Valley Ski Team qualified seven skiers at the U18 Nationals competition, which was the largest representation in the Western Region.
The U18 Nationals are held every year, and qualifying is no easy task.
The Western Region, which is is comprised of five divisions, has a single pool of athletes selected, so there are no guaranteed spots for the Far West. In order to be selected, U18 skiers participate in Western Region FIS races designated as U18 National qualifiers. The Western Region U18 skiers who are participating in the events are scored separately from the full field to determine who is offered an invitation to the U18 Nationals.
All totaled, 17 Far West racers earned the coveted U18 Nationals invitations.