Far West dudes tear it up at regionals
Heavenly Ski Foundations Wil Prim out-techniqued the field to win two events and Kirkwood’s Bryce Wehan demonstrated his all-around ability by winning one race and finishing runner-up in two others at the J4/5 Far West Skiing Championships March 29 through April 1 at Mammoth Mountain.
Continuing a late-season surge, Prim won the J5 two-run slalom by nearly 3.5 seconds and the dual GS by .56.
“We’ve been working really hard with Wil and his slalom technique,” said Heavenly coach John Mukavitz. “With all the changes in ski design and technique, if the athletes can adapt, they can win.
“Wil was 4 seconds out of the last Far West slalom in February and with all his new skills he finished 3.4 seconds ahead of (Andrew Willoboughby) in slalom. Wil’s win really helped inspire, not just the Heavenly kids, but all the kids who are adapting to the new slalom technique.”
Prim, 10, also was second and 10th in GS races.
He got plenty of heat from other South Shore racers in the slalom, as Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Jake Baker took third and Heavenly’s Kyle Smaine was sixth.
“Heavenly’s program is home to some of the top J5 boys in the Far West,” Mukavitz said. “Together, they help push each other faster and faster. We are hoping these boys will push each other all the way to the World Cup.”
Baker also came in third in the dual GS and fourth in the long GS. Smaine’s other smashing results included a third in the long GS and fifth in GS.
Meanwhile, Wehan edged Kirkwood teammate Nick Cohee to claim first in the J4 boys dual GS. Wehan clocked in at 52.15, while Cohee finished in 52.43.
However, Wehan had a bit of hard luck in super-G, losing to Travis Ganong by .01. Ganong also finished just ahead of Wehan in GS, 1:16.61 for two runs as opposed to Wehan’s 1:17.87.
“He almost stole the show there. Unfortunately, he was gunning for another top-3 finish in slalom and hung a tip,” said Kirkwood Foundation program director Darryl Whitaker. “The thing that surprised a lot of people is that he fell after leading the first run of the GS. He completely stopped on his second run twice and still finished second. There were a lot of lessons that he learned there, like never giving up and that he can ski with the very top of the age group.”
The area had a strong representation in the top 10 throughout the J4 races. Cohee also finished seventh in super-G and sixth in GS; Heavenly’s Marty Harris placed third in super-G, second in slalom and third in dual GS; Heavenly’s PJ Bacon was fourth in GS, fourth in slalom and fifth in super-G; Kirkwood’s Holden Sapp came in eighth in dual GS, 24th in super-G, 16th in GS and 22nd in slalom; Heavenly’s RJ Gardner was 23rd in super-G and 18th in GS; Heavenly’s Marty Rahbeck was 28th in GS and 27th in slalom; Heavenly’s Matt Galdin was 11th in duals GS, 59th in super-G; Heavenly’s Jaime Moore was 40th in GS and 31st in dual GS; Heavenly’s Cody Harrington, 40th in dual GS and 51st in GS; and Kirkwood’s Andrew Stanley was 44th in dual GS and 53rd in slalom.
In other J5 boys results, Heavenly’s Robert Pulford claimed ninth in dual GS, 14th in GS, 71st in slalom and 18th in long GS; Kirkwood’s Tyler Sambrailo captured 12th in slalom, 21st in GS, 28th place in long GS and 55th in dual GS; Kirkwood’s Brian Sergott finished 27th in dual GS, 29th in GS, 44th in long GS and 28th in slalom; Heavenly’s Justin Smaine 13th in dual GS, 16th in slalom, 32nd in long GS and 37th in GS; Austin Norton placed 26th in slalom, 36th in GS and 49th in long GS; and Kirkwood’s Tyler Johnson came in 58th in long GS and 61st in slalom.
In J5 girls racing, Heavenly’s Dana Nott repeatedly found the podium, finishing second in GS and third in both the long GS and dual GS.
Kirkwood’s Brittani Ballentyne was steady, placing 10th in GS, long GS and dual GS.
Also, Heavenly’s Margo Cutter finished 22nd in GS and 25th in long GS; Heavenly’s Christine Pulford came in 27th in long GS, 22nd in dual GS and 28th in GS; Heavenly’s Brette Harrington placed 26th in GS, 28th in dual GS and 30th in long GS; and Heavenly’s Austyn Harrington finished 44th in long GS, 38th in dual GS and 37th in GS.
Kirkwood’s Shelby Hawthorne led the area J4 girls, collecting three top-eight finishes. Hawthorne placed fourth in the dual GS, seventh in GS and eighth in slalom. She also stood 12th in super-G.
“To be knocking on the door for the top 5 as first-year J4, we expect some pretty good things for her next year,” Whitaker said.
Heavenly’s Heather Patterson, Ana Prim and Holly O’Brien cracked the top 10 once each. Patterson was fourth in the super-G, while Prim and O’Brien were seventh and 10th, respectively, in the dual GS.
In addition, Patterson was 24th in slalom; Prim finished 13th in GS, 15th in super-G and 22nd in slalom; O’Brien was 11th in super-G, 19th in slalom and 21st in GS; Kirkwood’s Brittany Cotter placed 14th in GS, 16th in slalom, 15th in dual GS and 26th in super-G; Celine Cutter claimed 24th place in GS, 31st in slalom and 30th in super-G; Heavenly’s Justine Ferguson was 17th in dual GS, 29th in slalom and 36th in super-G; Natalie Rastello was 36th in GS, 38th in slalom, 18th in dual GS and 41st in super-G; and Kirkwood’s Hilary Sanders was 29th in dual GS, 51st in super-G, 37th in slalom and 42nd in GS.
The championships brought out the best in the local skiers, and that fact wasn’t lost on Whitaker.
“I’m really proud of the way they stepped it up for the championships,” he said. “They went above the goals that they set at the start of the year. That is all you can ask as a coach.”
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