Heavenly Foundation alpine team places pair on USSA elite teams
After a long delay due to snow, the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation’s alpine team continued its dominance of the Far West division in an event at Mammoth Mountain last weekend. Gunnar Barnwell led the way by taking home some hardware in the Super G slalom at the Minaret Challenge — his ninth-place finish was only six-tenths of a second slower than the third-place podium finisher, showing how competitive this season’s U-14 racers are.
It was the first speed event of the season for both the U-14 and U-16 racers, and proved very challenging with weather conditions forcing the U-16 racers to run two speed events in one day to qualify for Junior Nationals. That tough task was something Heavenly’s Sean Dunkleman and Luke Allen were unable to do.
HSSF did however place a skier on the elite 2015 West U-18 National Championship Team. Maia Bickert was one of only 16 girls selected to the team, a group picked from all of the western United States.
“While other Far West programs have dozens of kids in each age group, here we have just a handful — and for the most part they are weekend warriors,” HSSF alpine director Kyle Kracht said.
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Barnwell was also formally invited to participate in the United States Skiing Association Far West Division performance camp being held next week at Sugar Bowl Resort. Out of the Northern, Southern and Central divisions of USSA Far West, Barnwell was selected 12th to earn one of 15 invitation-only spots to compete during the four-day event. This was the second time he has been selected — he also made the squad as a first-year U-14 skier last year.
“The fact that we have two athletes — one who has been selected and another competing for a potential national spot — says loads about our relatively small team,” HSSF program director Noel Dufty said.
“We are really excited about our up-and-comers in our development division who we know can make the jump to Far West from Tahoe League like Gunnar was able to do,” added Heavenly development team director Alisa Ferrier.
The Tahoe League Race Series held a split parallel dual race Sunday, Feb. 22 that was divided with the choice to compete at either Northstar California Resort or Diamond Peak Ski Resort. Heavenly skiers competed at Diamond Peak with a team of 19 athletes ranging in age from 7 to 16 years old.
Not only was the weather a challenge at Diamond Peak, but the extremely icy and firm conditions made having sharp edges more of an advantage than skiing with the wax competitors chose. These young athletes attacked the parallel dual courses with gusto and finesse, and all were able to complete two solid runs with areas of blue ice under their skis.
Heavenly took home five first-place medals at Diamond Peak. The fastest racer of the day was HSSF’s Danner Hillman. His two unbeatable runs put his combined time 2.26 seconds ahead of the boys 16-and-up group — and the entire field.
Other HSSF racers to reach the top of the podium were Cypress Sell (girls 14-15), Lauryn Bailey (girls 16 and up) Ellie LaVoie (girls 11) and Luke Allen (boys 14-15). LaVoie beat out five Diamond Peak girls to earn her gold and move into the fourth spot in the Tahoe League overall standings. Sell and Allen continue to hold their first-place overall positions, while Bailey moved into second.
The Heavenly team also had two more podium finishes — from Emily Hillman (girls 14-15) and Warren Martineau (boys 14-15). Both skiers won silver medals.
M.J. Allen raced his way through a field of Diamond Peak boys to claim the sixth position in the boys 12-13-year-old age group, while Annie Ferguson took ninth out of a field of 17 11-year old girls and Emma Habaradas grabbed a 10th-place medal out of 23 racers in the girls 10-year-old age group. Brodie Skinner, who claims skiing is in his blood, also secured a 10th-place medal in the boys 10-year-old age group.
The remaining athletes who participated from Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation at Diamond Peark included Agatha LaVoie, Devin Martineau, Natalie Frazier, Lars Ferrier, Aksel Ferrier, Quinn Skinner, Evan Habaradas and Sofie Hansel.
Regardless of where these youngsters are in their journey to become excellent skiers, Heavenly Foundation’s goal is to give them a positive outlet for their passion along with the resources and encouragement to pursue that passion. And all this takes place in an environment that can only be described as Heavenly.
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