Heavenly Foundation alpine skiers continue to shine
Heavenly Foundation alpine team members returned home from a hectic week of racing that spread the team all over the west as far as Colorado. HSSF’s only national team member Maia Bickert competed in all four events — downhill, Super G, giant slalom and slalom — while junior members of the team were shutout at Squaw Valley in the Big G last Sunday.
Parents and coaches alike often put in 12-hour days shuttling athletes from event to event if they are lucky. With snow conditions being what they are, the mountains have been pretty creative when it comes to where and how they are running these races.
“Quite frankly, it is nothing short of a miracle local mountains like Heavenly have been able to run races that include at times in excess of 200 racers on one hill and four races on that same hill,” said HSSF director Noel Dufty, who is also the USAA Northern Alpine Competition Committee at large representative.
“The fact that we have been able to run the majority of our races this year with the lack of snow we have in the west is a testament to the hard work of every mountain management team across the west,” Heavenly Foundation alpine director Kyle Kratch said. “Our primary goal is to keep our athletes safe while they enjoy the sport they love.”
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Nowhere was this tested more than at the national level in Colorado, where Bickert suffered a broken nose in the slalom but still managed to pull off the best finish of her four events, placing 16th despite the injury. She was also able to win the downhill training run and placed in the top 20 in all but one event — the Super G slalom, which she did not finish.
A number of athletes found conditions similarly challenging on local slopes. After performing strongly at performance camp, Gunnar Barnwell was only able to complete one of four events he competed in without a fall at the March Madness GS and SL held at Alpine Meadows last weekend. After falling an astonishing seven times in the first run and once in the second run, Barnwell finished 58th in his first open series race and 24th in giant slalom.
“This race was all about our athletes lowering their points to get a better start next year,” said HSSF U-14 head coach Jim Hein. “The fact Gunnar didn’t give up shows how much gumption the kid has.”
The standout star of the U-14 group was Tyler Olivieri, who placed first both days for the U-14 boys and sixth overall in slalom and 10th overall in giant slalom. Oliveri also received a special award for being the boys’ hardest charger.
Barnwell and Oliveri both started close to 90th and were both able to come from the back to the front of the pack. Barnwell made the flip on Sunday and was able to run first on the second run, but a fall on that run put him at 24th overall and sixth place for his age group.
Both skiers’ times put them as the best finishers for this open series race amongst HSSF athletes. Heavenly’s skiers included Michael Gardner (33rd in slalom, 32nd in giant slalom), Natalie Allen (47th slalom, 67th GS) and Mary Weyland (69th slalom, 59th GS) — Mikaela Clothier was disqualified in slalom and did not finish the first run in giant slalom.
Adding to the list of disqualifications on the boys side were Mathew Shick in the GS last Sunday and Luke Allen, who did not start in slalom on Saturday so he could compete in Tahoe League. Sean Dunkelman also didn’t compete in the slalom last Saturday, but placed 32nd in the giant slalom Sunday ahead of Luke Allen (52nd). Shick had an impressive top-50 finish in slalom, giving him 261.82 points helping his next starting position.
Despite being blown out of the Big G at Squaw last Sunday, Heavenly’s U-10 and U-12 racers had impressive showings. Kai Subith finished fifth in the U-10 boys giant slalom with a combined time of 2:03.08, Charles Baker finished 10th in the U-10 boys giant slalom a combined time of 2:08.03, Etienne Dollar finished 14th in the U-12 boys super GS with a time of 1:03.47, Allison Mollin finished 26th in the U-12 Women’s super giant slalom with a time of 1:07.39 and Elianna Dollar finished 45th in the U-10 girls giant slalom with a combined time of 2:33.83.
Heavenly’s U-18 boys Austin Allen and Tristan Deatherage did not compete in the open series race at Alpine Meadows because they were selected for the USSA Western Regional Junior Championships. Qualification Race Points (QRP) for the open series races will be used to compute selection for elite athlete attendance and national team placement within USSA.
For second-year U-14 racers, the event marked the first race they entered in which QRP totals were used. Racers must compete in four races in three disciplines for the QRP selection criteria. With ski resorts closing, temperatures rising and limited snowpack remaining.
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