Heavenly Foundation alpine team winding down 2014-15 season | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly Foundation alpine team winding down 2014-15 season

Tribune staff report

After a season of virtually no snow, the Heavenly Foundation alpine ski team is winding down racing for the 2014-15 campaign. The oldest alpine racing program on Lake Tahoe's South Shore was able to survive and thrive during the worst winter the program has seen since 1954.

The Far West Central series all but shut down every racing program this year, including canceling the oldest ski race in U.S. history — the Silver Ski Slalom held at Badger Pass. In addition, every team in the central series trained only at Bear Valley.

"Only through the extraordinary snowmaking efforts of Heavenly, which has the largest snowmaking system in the West, were we able to keep training," HSSF program director Noel Dufty said.

"Since 1984 our race program has been turning out world-class athletes who have competed in world cup and Olympic events while having just a fraction of the athletes many other programs have — not to mention our very competitive tuition rates," said Heavenly alpine program director Kyle Kracht.

Many of the private ski academies around the lake cost tens of thousands of dollars in contrast to Heavenly's, which costs a few thousand dollars thanks to amazing benefactors and the community. Thanks to the Killebrew family, HSSF is able to maintain a world-class training facility for all of its athletes — including freestyle and snowboard teams.

Despite the vast differences in personality types, these teams have continued to work hard toward HSSF's goal, which is to make it possible for every interested young athlete in the local and surrounding communities to take advantage of the programs offered by its competitive ski and snowboard teams. Heavenly has seen the results — its coaching and direction allows its youngsters, especially high school and college students, to be better prepared for ski racing by becoming involved with the foundation anytime during their career.

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With the majority of its championships complete, Heavenly would like to congratulate its athletes on an outstanding season. Overall results for Tahoe League and USSA Far West competitors included 11 HSSF athletes that were awarded trophies or medals.

These athletes are: Ellie LaVoie (second place, girls 11-year-old age group); Agatha LaVoie (13th, girls 12-13); M.J. Allen (eighth, boys 12-13); Cypress Sell (first) and Emily Hillman (fifth) in girls 14-15; Luke Allen (first), Logan Langemeier (fourth), Warren Martineau (ninth) and Grant Sutter (10th) in boys 14-15; Danner Hillman (third, boys 16-and-up) and Lauryn Bailey (third, boys 16-and-up). Congratulations to all of the athletes who competed in the 2015 Tahoe League race series for the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation.

Heavenly's Far West competitors also did well in championships, with Gunnar Barnwell taking sixth in slalom and 13th in Super G, putting him 12th overall for the season for the U-14 boys. Also finishing 13th in slalom for the U-12 boys was Etienne Dollar — he placed 29th overall.

Kai Subith took two podiums with a first- and third-place finish for the U-10 boys in giant slalom and fifth in slalom, putting him fifth overall for the season while Charlie Baker finished 13th in giant slalom and 19th in slalom to place 15th overall — Elianna Dollar was 32nd overall for U-10 girls. Western Region Junior Championships for Heavenly's athletes are yet to be completed.

With HSSF's 14th-annual Grapes and Gates event taking place April 22 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course at 6 p.m. to honor Malcolm Tibbetts with the Bill Killebrew Award presented by Killebrew, it's an excellent time to reflect on how important ski racing is and has been to our community. Heavenly Foundation is fortunate to have the support of Vail Corporation, all the coaches from each Vail program, the parents of the athletes, local businesses and the community.

What HSSF now needs is for schools to understand how beneficial the program is for their students, and it's hoping parents will buy tickets for local teachers at Grapes and Gates so they can attend and see first-hand what a great program Heavenly has. By integrating Lake Tahoe Unified School District and Douglas County into its program, HSSF believes they will ultimately be the beneficiaries of having talented, competitive and responsible young athletes on their high school ski teams.

Grapes and Gates helps support HSSF's scholarship program that covers 50 percent tuition for athletes. Heavenly believes any child in this community who shows a willingness to participate and a desire to improve their skills should have the opportunity to be a part of this amazing organization.

Heavenly Foundation is looking forward to this adult-only party April 22 to celebrate the foundation's hard work this season and to raise awareness in the community about the program. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/grapes-gates-tickets-16195321643.