Heavenly Foundation athletes compete in Far West Kombi | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Heavenly Foundation athletes compete in Far West Kombi

Special to the Tribune

ALPINE MEADOWS, Calif. – Heavenly athletes traveled to Alpine Meadows on Feb. 25 and 26, taking part in the first technical Kombi race ever, as part of the Far West race series.

Considered an “open” race, some athletes may or may not choose to participate in the race since the results are not used in determining the overall series awards at the end of the race season. However, that was not the case, as several hundred athletes took part in the Kombi, which included slalom gates, giant slalom paneled gates, brushes, and dots all set in a GS style rhythm course, into a slalom, and then back into a GS while athletes negotiated going over a pro-style jump.

“Some parents and athletes make the mistake of thinking open races are easy to win or get medals. There’s a lot of good racers … and depth and there weren’t any J5 racers missing,” said Heavenly Coach Mark Norton, eluding to the fact that the top 15 field of the J4 groups were off competing in an invitational event held the same weekend. “The Far West division historically has had the best racers and the most competitors out of the nation.”

Heavenly athlete, Sean Dunkelman, had a pair of top 10 results with an eighth place on Saturday. Dunkelman’s teammates Nick Fischer and Gunnar Barnwell also had great results with a 14th for Fischer in the J4 Boys (11 and 12 year-olds) and Barnwell a 15th in the J5 boys (ages 10 and younger). Other Saturday results included the Huber brothers, Corey and Connor, with a 27th and 30th, followed by Luke Allen in 40th, Logan Langemeier in 41st, Sam Ward 42nd, and NicBuchholz 50th, all in the J4 Boys division. MJ Allen was 32nd for the J5 boys.

For the Girls, both Saturday’s and Sunday’s results were posted with Madison Idso earning two top 15 finishes in the J4 Girls class with an 11th and 15th place. Cypress Sell wasn’t far behind with a 21st and 28th, followed by Katie Fischer with a 37th and 42nd place.

While Far West athletes were competing in the open Kombi race, Sugar Bowl hosted the J4 Performance Camp, an invitational only race, where the top 15 competitors in each of the boys’ class as well as the girls’ Far West Division competed in slalom, giant slalom and super G races. Athletes also received technical instruction, drills and video analysis by various coaches prior to each race event.

In years past, this event was known as the “shootout” where the top three male and the top three female finishers, based on their results from this event, were chosen to attend the older J3 (ages 13 and 14) Junior Olympics. Since the Far West division no longer sends these younger athletes to the J.O.’s, the performance camp was created to give the top performing athletes an event to aim for. Heavenly had two male racers qualify for attendance at the premier event; and, based on their results, both boys would have qualified for the Junior Olympics under the old rules.

Dylan Gooding won the slalom, placed 8th in the GS and 11th in the super G. Gooding’s teammate, Payton Norton, was 6th in the super G, but it was his 3rd in slalom and his giant slalom win that tied Norton for the Overall Win with Squaw’s Brett Hurt. Both Norton and Gooding each had win’s that would have made them automatics to the Junior Olympics. Instead, both boys will have to settle for the fact that they both had outstanding accomplishments and that they represented the Heavenly team well.

The next Far West races get underway March 17 and 18th, when Mammoth hosts the first super G races of the season.


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