Young and old Tahoe skiers representing area well |

Young and old Tahoe skiers representing area well

The Associated Press Jonna Mendes carves her way to a U.S. title Friday.

By Jeremy Evans

Tribune staff writer

MAMMOTH LAKES – When 16-year-old Amy Harris rolled into Mammoth Lakes last week, she saw ski racing superstars such as North Shore’s Julia Mancuso and South Shore’s Jonna Mendes. The Incline Village resident was unsure how she would react being on the same start list as them.

“It’s intimidating,” said Harris, who is making her first nationals’ appearance. “It’s most exciting to see how all the best people do things because I think it brings everyone up a level or two. You always pick up things, just their level of intensity.”

Intimidation aside, Harris was just one of several skiers to represent the Tahoe area well at the 2005 Oroweat U.S. Alpine Championships at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. The Diamond Peak skier placed 31st in the downhill (1:39.12) and 26th in Saturday’s super-G (1:27.39). Harris is also scheduled to compete in today’s giant slalom, her strongest discipline.

Mancuso, who already has won four medals in Mammoth (downhill, super-G, slalom, combined) has taken notice to Tahoe’s rising stars. Sugar Bowl’s Katharine Hitchcock finished fourth overall in Sunday’s slalom and won the junior combined title, an award given to the skier who has the fastest combined times in downhill and slalom.

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“It’s awesome,” said Mancuso, who won five medals last year at nationals. “And it’s really good because these younger girls are doing well. It’s nice to see.”

Mendes won her second consecutive national downhill on Friday. She now has four career U.S. titles.

U.S. Ski Team women’s coach, Patrick Riml, isn’t shocked to see his Tahoe natives shining at nationals.

“Julia has been skiing very well the entire year,” Riml said. “Everybody knows she has been in the hunt for every title. She had top-10 finishes in all four events in the World Cup. When you reach that level, you can win nationals in every event.

“And Jonna has done a great job here. We have a very strong downhill team. It’s a very healthy and competitive environment. Everybody wants to be the best and that’s why we are where we are in the World Cup right now. Everybody’s working really hard and pushing each other.”

16-year-olds debut

Heavenly Ski Foundation’s Holly O’Brien, 16, finished 46th in Friday’s downhill, her only scheduled national event. Marty Harris, also 16 and of Heavenly, finished 57th in Thursday’s downhill training run and placed 59th out of 64 skiers in Friday’s downhill. He returned to Tahoe on Friday night after not qualifying for Sunday’s slalom, his strongest discipline.

Miller has modest weekend

World Cup overall title winner Bode Miller has had a quiet nationals so far – at least by his standards. Miller finished eighth in the downhill (1:31.61), third in the super-G (1:17.56) and did not score (DNS) in his second race in Sunday’s slalom. He is scheduled to compete in Tuesday’s giant slalom.

Other Tahoe athlete results: Sugar Bowl’s Daron Rahlves: downhill (ninth), super-G (first); Squaw’s Greg Bartels: downhill (28th), super-G (DNF); Kirkwood’s Errol Kerr: downhill (30th) super-G (36th); Squaw’s Travis Ganong: downhill (50th), super-G (35th), slalom: (DNF, first run).