Lear jets to JO qualifying win at Mammoth
Only .11 of a second separated first through third places as Heavenly’s Danny Lear emerged as the winner in a tight super-G during Junior Olympic qualifying for J1s and J2s last weekend at Mammoth Mountain.
Lear won the second super-G of the weekend in 1 minute, 6.70 seconds after finishing 12th in the opener. A Squaw Valley competitor was only .03 behind, with Heavenly’s Sean Weatherston third in 1:06.81.
“It’s so hard to win. It’s difficult to do in our sport,” said Heavenly Ski Foundation director Noel Dufty.
The Mammoth races determined the final spits for the J1 and J2 Junior Olympics scheduled throughout this week at Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl and Mount Bachelor in the coming weeks. The race series was to include two downhills, but these were canceled due to snow and wind. An extra super-G was held but did not count toward the qualifying. Junior 3 athletes were also able to race if they qualified.
The first race was conducted in a blizzard and “we didn’t do as well as we thought,” Dufty said. “But it turned out to be a big weekend for us.”
Heavenly’s Oliver Russell finished fifth, Lear, 12th; Weatherston, 15th; Cory Harris, 20th; Kyle Kracht, 41st; Chris Little, 47th; James Rastello, 48th; and Chris McKean in 51st. In the girls super-G, Heavenly’s Diana Higman placed 12th; Heavenly’s Courtney Carmichael, 13th; Kylese Zaiger, of Sierra, 19th; and Heavenly’s Lily Palmieri, 22nd. Heavenly’s Grace Harding and Shayna Gianelli did not finish.
The second race was in beautiful sunshine and on good snow conditions, and Heavenly’s results warmed up as well.
In addition to Lear’s and Weatherston’s strong performances, Russell came in seventh; McKean, 13th; Harris, 14th; Little, 16th; Kracht, 65th; and Rastello, 66th. In the girls race, Higman came in fifth; Zaiger, eighth; Palmieri, 24th; Harding, 30th; Alexis Rudd, Kirkwood, 34th; and Shayna Gianelli, 36th.
The third super-G also resulted in good results with Lear third; Weatherston, sixth; Harris, eighth; Russell, ninth; Little, 10th; McKean, 11th; Kracht, 54th; and Rastello, 56th. For the girls, Higman was fifth; Zaiger, Sierra, eighth; and Harding, 25th.
Palmieri crashed, bringing back memories of Herman Maier’s 1998 Olympic fall.
After final JO qualifying last weekend, 13 Heavenly athletes were named to the J1, J2 and J3 Junior Olympic teams from the Far West. Unfortunately, the J3 super-Gs were canceled due to too much snow.
Russell and Shayna Gianelli are competing at the J1 Olympics that began Wednesday and will continue through Sunday at Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl. Racing begins at 10 a.m. daily.
University of Nevada skiers Christie Higman, Corky Novotny and Jamie Hansen, formerly of Heavenly, will also compete.
Harris, Lear, Little, McKean, Weatherston, Higman and Palmieri will attend the J2 Olympics at Mount Bachelor, Ore., March 17-25. Harding has been named as an alternate.
Courtney Carmichael, Kyle Kracht, Marty Harris and PJ Bacon will attend the J3/J4 Olympics at Jackson, Wyo. Jon Little was named as an alternate. Also, Zaiger from Sierra-at-Tahoe and Katherine Sawaya from Kirkwood were selected.
The Junior Olympics are the championship series for ski racers throughout the West in the respective age ranges. Very few athletes in this pool are selected to attend U.S. Nationals, so these races will bring together the best skiers from the entire Western Region.
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