South Tahoe hangs onto league lead |

South Tahoe hangs onto league lead

Harry Lefrak / Lefrak PhotographyMaia Bickert tore up the race course for a 60.52 first-place finish overall at Homewood on Monday. See more photos from the race at

If Monday’s race was like the Pro Bowl of high school skiing, then South Tahoe’s Maia Bickert smoked them all. “All the big guns in the league were there. It was like the Pro Bowl, all the best players of all the teams,” coach Mike Shreve said. Bickert blazed to a first-place finish, helping the lady Vikings squeeze into third place overall at Homewood on Monday. The South Tahoe boys faced a Truckee team laced with some of the best high school skiers in the world, and hung in for second. Whittell’s Hughston Norton turned in the top South Shore boys’ time, fifth place, and the Whittell boys picked up fifth place overall behind him. The Whittell girls edged up to fourth place with their roster back up to four girls. The South Tahoe results were strong enough to keep the team in first place in the Tahoe Basin Ski League. “We’re one point up on North Tahoe and we’ve got to keep distance from them through the year because all those same skiers could come back for the state championship, and the tides can turn again,” Shreve said.The girls’ race was tight. The first, second and third-place teams were separated by just five points. Bickert knew she was facing some serious competition before the race. First place was by no means a guarantee. “She knew it would be a tough race. There were three girls in the starting lineup who have beaten her in the past,” Shreve said. “She was relaxed, but incredibly focused.” Her first run of the day (29.69) showed she meant business. It was the second fastest run put down by any skier Monday. Her second run gave her a combined 60.52 for a first-place finish that was more than one second faster than North Tahoe’s runner up Jessica Tidd (61.57).South Tahoe’s Mikaela Clothier wasn’t far behind in fifth place, coming in at 63.12. “She could have podiumed,” Shreve said of Clothier, “but she wanted to start her year off with two consistent runs, which is all I asked her for. I said ‘Mikaela, don’t try to win. I want you to be consistent this entire season,’ and that’s what she did.”Katie Sears (13th, 67.56), Abi Killebrew(16th, 68.1), Natalie Allen (18th, 71.37), Kailey Killeen (22, 73.58) and Cassidy McDonough (23, 73.7) rounded out the South Tahoe girls’ times. The girls lost one of their top skiers, Mikela Mangiaracin, who took a spill in flat light during a warm up run and strained her knee. Meanwhile, Whittell’s Michael Gardner led the lady Warriors to a fourth-place finish among the elite competition. Gardner flew in for seventh place (64.18), with a best-run time of 31.01. Not far behind were Danica Bunnett (15th, 67.92), Katherine Krolicki (24th, 73.77) and Skylar Smith (33, 91). It was Smith’s first race since a knee injury. The boys’ competition field was even tougher. Ten of the boys were world-class FIS skiers, who are usually out of town during high school competitions, but not Monday. Most of these guys are on Truckee’s team. “The boys who ski for Truckee, those aren’t just names in Truckee. Those are household names for all high school kids who ski across the U.S.,” Shreve said. “They’re not going to have that arsenal very often, however, if that’s what they bring, we were still able to get in there next to them in second place with our boys.”The Vikings hung in behind strong times from their underclassmen. Freshman Alec Jobbins turned in a ninth-place finish at 64.65, followed by Austin Allen (10th, 64.69), Jason Elder (11th, 65.02), Chad Kaassamani (12th, 65.09), Jake Krazczek (19th, 68.89) and Connor McKeen (25th, 74.87).“Our freshmen had a chance to ski against kids they would never see until they get into the U.S. Ski Team level,” Shreve said. “So it was a fantastic opportunity for our kids to see how they stacked up against these world-class skiers.”Hughtston Norton led the Whitell boys with a fifth-place finish, leading all the South Shore boys with 61.8. Whittell’s Kody Dangtongdee (18th, 67.65), Avery Laub (27th, 75.65) and Gabe Rusk (36th, 87.1) completed the boys’ times. The race marks the first race held at Homewood in two decades. It was also specifically scheduled during a school holiday. “There was a growing concern from the school administrators that we’re taking a lot of time out of academics with our midweek races,” Shreve said. “We were urged to be more creative on scheduling races when school was not in session so that’s why we picked yesterday.”

Whittell boysRankCombinedHughtston Norton561.8Kody Dangtongdee1867.65Avery Laub2775.65Gabe Rusk3687.1Whittell girlsRankCombinedMichael Gardner764.18Danica Bunnett1567.92Katherine Krolicki2473.77Skylar Smith 3391South Tahoe boysRankCombinedAlec Jobbins964.65Austin Allen1064.69Jason Elder1165.02Chad Kaassamani1265.09Jake Krazczek1968.89Connor McKeen2574.87South Tahoe girlsRankCombinedMaia Bickert160.52Mikaela Clothier563.12Katie Sears 1367.56Abi Killebrew1668.1Natalie Allen1871.37Kailey Killeen2273.58Cassidy McDonough2373.7

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