Tahoe-area J2 racers shine at Junior Nationals
MAMMOTH, Calif. – The Lake Tahoe area was well represented at the J2 National Championships held last week at Mammoth Mountain, where the top 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds from across the country gathered to compete on a national level.
Sponsored by the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) in conjunction with Marriott, the week-long event featured competition in slalom, giant slalom, super G, downhill and duel.
Local racers took advantage of their experience on the race venues and claimed five of the eight national titles and 15 total medals.
Competition opened in Mammoth with the slalom on Wednesday, March 7, during which Erik Arvidsson of the Squaw Valley Ski Team claimed the win. He won both runs by comfortable margins over teammate Max Hall, who finished second. Arvidsson and Hall were joined on the podium by teammate and Whittell High student Hughston Norton in fifth and Sugar Bowl Academy’s Ty Sprock, who is also a Warrior, in sixth.
In Thursday’s downhill, Scotty Lebel of Lake Tahoe Racing took the win from the back of the pack and collected the junior national title. Jorden Fuller of the Squaw Valley Ski Team joined Lebel on the podium with a fourth-place finish.
Friday’s super G races put Sugar Bowl Academy athletes on both the men’s and women’s podium, with Brian Francis finishing second and Julia Bjorkman of Incline Village taking the women’s crown. Francis was joined on the podium by Lebel in third and Sprock in fifth. Julia Cashell of the Squaw Valley Ski Team was also solid in sixth.
Over the weekend, Sugar Bowl Academy athletes demonstrated their prowess in the GS event, as Bjorkman grabbed her second win of the series and Sprock found himself atop the podium with the GS crown. On Saturday afternoon, Bjorkman overcame a two-second deficit with a blazing-fast second run to claim the crown. Similarly, Sprock dominated Sunday’s second run taking the win by 1.7 seconds over Jeremy Epstein from the Eastern Division.
The local J2 national champions, Arvidsson, Bjorkman, Lebel and Sprock, will compete at U.S. Nationals later this month in Winter Park, Colo.
In all, the Squaw Valley Ski Team had 18 top-15 finishes, Sugar Bowl Academy had 13 and Lake Tahoe Racing had two.