Norton Third in Giant Slalom |

Norton Third in Giant Slalom

Special to the Tribune

SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. – Heavenly Foundation Team athletes traveled to Squaw Valley over the weekend, where they raced both Giant Slalom and Parallel Slalom, as part of the Far West race series. Despite crashes, injuries and battling the flu, Heavenly still posted decent results. On Saturday, J4 athlete Payton Norton posted the fastest 2nd run time in the GS, boosting him to 3rd place for the 11 and 12 year old boys. Norton’s teammates, Dylan Gooding and Sean Dunkelman, were also expected to have placed in the top 10, but ended up having crashes or mistakes that resulted in them hiking.

“Dylan was 4th on one of his runs and Sean was near the top 15 on his….they just needed to put together two runs to secure a top ten or top 15 result,” Coach Mark Norton said.

With nearly 100 competitors racing in the J4 Boys class (97 to be exact), Heavenly athletes gave a strong showing in the GS: Dylan Gooding 32nd, Nick Fischer 36th, Luke Allen 43rd, Sam Ward 53rd, Trent Funke 54th, Logan Langemeier 61st, Connor Huber 64th, Nick Buchholz 69th, and Sean Dunkelman was 76th.

Madison Idso skied to a 16th place in the GS for the J4 girls, nearly cracking the top 15, with teammates Cypress Sell and Katie Fischer placing 47th and 63rd out of a field of 79 racers.

“They gave their best effort, and that’s all we expect of them,” said Heavenly Coach Raquel Norton. “There are a lot of competitors in each division and good ones at that.”

While the J4 athletes were racing GS on Red Dog Run, the J5s (ages 10 and younger) were racing Parallel Slalom on Exhibition Run. Parallel Slalom, a new discipline to the Far West race series, involves skiers racing dual slalom around GS gate panels similar to the old pro races run in the 1980’s, but without the jumps. Gunnar Barnwell placed 22nd while MJ Allen lost a ski and did not finish.

On Sunday, the schedule flipped with the J4’s racing parallel slalom on Exhibition Run. Again, small mistakes kept the Heavenly team off the podium but managed consistent performances. Norton was the team’s top finisher with a 13th place, while Gooding won the 2nd run to move up to 21st place, followed by Dunkelman in 26th, Fischer 32nd, Corey Huber 45th, Connor Huber 62nd, Ward 65th, Langemeier 68th, Buchholz 75th, and Funke 85th. J4 Girls Idso, Sell and Fischer placed 32nd, 56th, and 73rd respectively.

J5 Boys showed they were not intimidated by the steep and firm Red Dog Run, as Barnwell broke the top 15 with a 13th place finish with Allen placing 40th in the GS. Heavenly athletes will be home training this weekend, but will travel to Alpine Meadows at the end of the month to race in a Kombi event, February 25th and 26th.

Also, this past weekend, the Tahoe League racers raced a traditional dual slalom at Sugar Bowl with the 10 year-olds and younger racing on Saturday.

“Each race, I see improvement among my athletes. We didn’t place in the top 10, put we are consistently getting better,” said Heavenly Coach Tim Shankland.

For the 7/8 year-old classes, Allison Mollin placed 39th in the Girls with Annie Ferguson placing 48th.

“Some of our younger athletes had a rough go in that Emma Habaradas missed a gate 1st run and then crashed on her second run…and then I had another kid, Chad Maricich leave after his first run due to the flu……but they’re having fun and learning a lot,” said Coach Jon McKean. Blake Sutter and Devin Marineau placed 55th and 62nd for the Boys class. Lexie Sutter had a solid 28th place finish in the Girls 9/10 class out of a field of 60.

On Sunday, the older Tahoe League athletes had their turn at the dual slalom courses. Heavenly nearly had two of their six athletes post top 15 finishes with a pair of 18th places by Wesley Alexander in the Boys 11/12 class, while Lauren Bailey placed 18th in the Girls 13/14 class. Heavenly teammates, Lucas Kassity placed 24th in the Boys 11/12 class, followed by Warren Martineau in 27th, Mitchell Krivan 30th, and Grant Sutter 34th. The next Tahoe League race will be held at Sierra on Saturday, February 25th.

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