Heavenly Foundation alpine skiers in solid midseason standing after Diamond Peak slalom | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly Foundation alpine skiers in solid midseason standing after Diamond Peak slalom

HSSF U-14 alpine coach Jim Hein (left) and skier Gunnar Barnwell slip the slalom course at Diamond Peak last Saturday.
Courtesy Photo |

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association reached the midway point of its season last weekend with the North Series U-14 slalom held at Diamond Peak Ski Resort. With warm temperatures, it hardly felt like January — making it hard to believe it is still ski season and that racing season has reached the midway mark.

In ski racing, the coveted spot to be in is anywhere in the top 30, as later racers become seeded and run in a random start order from the back of the pack. That makes it extremely difficult, as some Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation athletes experienced this past weekend.

“Of all the alpine athletes we have skiing in Far West this year, only two of them are outside that coveted top-30 ranking,” HSSF ski program director Noel Dufty said.

HSSF has two athletes currently on the bubble: U-10 girls skier Elianna Dollar sitting 32nd and her brother U-12 boys skier Etienne Dollar placed 35th. In U-12 girls, HSSF has Allison Mollin in 30th and in U-10 boys its youngest star, Kai Subith, is currently placed fourth.

“He seems to be a natural, and the older kids really enjoy watching this U-10 phenom,” Tahoe League director Alisa Ferrier said of Subith.

The U-14 level is really the proving ground for those who are ready to become serious about ski racing, and after his win in the Tahoe League slalom Gunnar Barnwell was eager to prove he could compete against the best skiers in the west. With a top-10 finish the first day and placing ninth, Barnwell moved up to 15th place in the overall standings — the top 20 U-14 skiers are selected after the giant slalom race at Alpine Meadows Feb. 7 and 8.

Matthew Schick also moved up in the standings this week after a 29th-place finish in slalom. Schick took the 33rd spot away from teammate Lars Ferrier.

“Diamond Peak did an outstanding job of putting together a great course on Showoff with the limited coverage they had,” HSSF U-14 coach Jim Hein said. “Allowing us the opportunity to load the chair two hours before the general public got there made for a fast track and early finish.”

Warmer temperatures on day two made for challenging conditions on the second run. Kirkwood Ski and Education Foundation’s (KSEF) Bennett Norman went down hard in the flush before the last pitch, creating a huge hole that Barnwell managed to find only a few runs later.

“The race ended without official results being posted as of Monday, but the unofficial results still keep Gunnar in the top 10 for both days,” HSSF alpine ski team director Kyle Kracht said.

At the midway point, HSSF has some outstanding older kids in the program poised for Junior Olympics and Nationals this year led by outstanding U-18 girls skier Maia Bickert. Bickert is currently ranked fifth with 368 points.

For the HSSF boys, Austin Allen is currently ranked ninth with 178 points — just behind him in 11th place for the U-18 girls is Mikaela Clothier with 201 points. Up-and-coming U-16 skier Sean Dunkleman could get that coveted 20th spot on the Junior Olympics team at the Wild West Shootout, an open race for U-16 skiers that have maintained a top-30 ranking.

“With a whopping 80 percent of our USSA racers clawing for performance camp, junior nationals or Junior Olympics, the hard work of the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation members and community support seems to be paying off,” Dufty said.

“When you see the bright lights shining at night on World Cup run, you just might want to come take a look at some of the best skiers in Tahoe — and some of the best skiers in the entire Far West.”

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