Whittell grad, state champ, Barnwell selected for Far West Pace Team

Submitted to the Tribune
Gunnar Barnwell races down a slalom course.

After a rocky end to the last ski season that was cut short before Nationals due to COVID-19, officials, athletes and parents are all looking forward to a much different type of FIS season.

With historical races all over Europe being canceled this year, The Sugar Bowl Academy has placed two of its elites on the Far West Pace Team.

Ryan Herhusky, winner of the Bobby Mehrhof award for outstanding performance last season, is the youngest member of the team. Herhusky has also been honored by Far West for his outstanding academic performance as a student at Sugar Bowl Academy.

Gunnar Barnwell, Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association slalom champion and George Whittell High School graduate, were both selected to the elite squad of six, that includes three international competitors and one collegiate racer, Harrison Goss, who made the NCAA skiing Championships in 2020 which was also canceled due to COVID.

Barnwell received a scholarship to help attend the prestigious race academy at Sugar Bowl this season and last year was fortunate to qualify, also through a scholarship, to race for Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.

Barnwell was also fortunate last season that a close family friend allowed him to stay at a condominium all winter in Sun Valley free of charge.

“Ski racing definitely takes a village, and we are so fortunate our village now extends all over the west,” said Tina Barnwell, Gunnar’s Mom. “When you see people you have never met embrace your son, take him in, feed him, and even cloth him so they can attend a fancy party in Sun Valley, quite frankly you are just stunned.”

As Gunnar has gotten older, he understands the effort made by his parents to get him to where he is today.

“The Far West Pace team has been a goal of mine ever since I began to realize the sacrifice my parents made just to get me to the race let alone pay for the lift ticket,” said Gunnar Barnwell.

The Far West Pace Team is designed to encourage low points racers to attend Far West/U.S. Ski races. An athlete may be a member of both the FWST and the FWPT. The FWPT has a maximum size of 12, for the 20-21 season there will be six men and six women.

The rewards for achieving this status for the racer and supporters is immense, including: free lifts at all U.S. Ski/Far West races; Free entries at all U.S. Far West races; FWPT Pass for free skiing at all participating Far West Ski areas for training; and FWPT members will receive a day for day credit for races attended from designated U.S. Ski or Far West Divisional FIS races, towards entries to the Western Region FIS Elite Spring Series.

Being selected for Nationals this season will be highly competitive due to COVID with selections being cut in half.

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