Heavenly Foundation alpine team competes in Sully Classic | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly Foundation alpine team competes in Sully Classic

Heavenly Foundation U-14 alpine ski team racers (left to right): Matt Schick, Lars Ferrier and Gunnar Barnwell competed in the Sully Classic PGS at Squaw Valley Jan. 3-4. Not pictured: Jaqueline Oh.
Courtesy Photo |

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — On a somber Saturday morning, the Heavenly Foundation U-14 alpine skiers made their way to Squaw Valley to pay tribute to local ski hero Mark “Sully” Sullivan in the Sully Classic PGS held on Mott’s off Siberia chair Jan. 3-4. With over 180 racers entered, the parallel pitted racers head-to-head down Mott’s undulating terrain over a 90-meter descent through as many as 25 gates in less than 35 seconds.

The racers alternated between the red and blue courses, switching depending on their start order. The fast-paced action saw several racers collide into each other resulting in one racer being taken from the course by sled ride from the Squaw Valley Ski Patrol.

Heavenly’s Gunnar Barnwell was one of only seven racers to place in the boys top 20 on Saturday, Jan. 3 despite only one day of training in parallel on a single course compared to Squaw Valley’s two weeks of training on Mott’s. Barnwell posted a first-run time of 33.28 and a second-run time of 32.69 for a total of 1:05.97 — a bobble on the final pitch with a slight hip check kept him out of a top-10 finish.

New HSSF team member Lars Ferrier followed Barnwell by posting consistent times of 36.07 and 36.94 for a total of 1:13.01, placing him right in the middle of the pack. Matt Shick had a very respectable first-run time of 34.01 — just a half-second off Barnwell’s time — but a fall on his second run left him with an overall time of 1:17.23.

Jaqueline Oh, the team’s only female Far West Athlete, skied well until she succumbed to missing the 14th gate — a very sharp blind right-footer over the first steep pitch — and was disqualified. The second day also proved to be difficult for Jackie, as she missed the second-to-last gate in the flats that was set very straight and tested the young athletes’ awareness.

“With only nine skiers placing in the top 20 from mountains other than Squaw Valley, it was apparent the Squaw kids had the clear advantage,” Heavenly U-14 head coach Jim Hein said. “Little snow and big crowds forced our team to train at Kirkwood over the holiday break, so we are fortunate to have Kirkwood and Northstar available for our athletes — and close relationships with those race programs who we have a reciprocating arrangement with conditions permitting.”

The clear standout on Sunday, Jan. 4 was Matt Shick. A second-year Far West USSA racer, Shick finished only nine places behind seasoned junior team member Barnwell with a total time of 1:14:42. Barnwell had a time of 1:11.90 — both athletes had consistent times on both runs despite beginning in the back of the starting order.

Ferrier managed to move up five spots from the first day. That result came despite a fall that cost him three seconds on his second run.

Heavenly had a chance to hone its slalom skills on its home turf last Sunday in the Tahoe League Race Series season opener. The team returns to action Jan. 24-25 at Diamond Peak, when hometown rivals square off in a two-day slalom event.

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