Local ski clubs start with touch of madness
The season for the young ski racers from the Heavenly Ski Foundation and Kirkwood Ski Education Foundation started with a touch of madness.
On Saturday and Sunday, both teams sent their J4 (age 11-12) and J5 (age 9-10) racers to Kirkwood for the Millennium Madness J4/J5, a pair of giant slalom races. With participation near 90 people, the event plunged racers into the thick of competition at the beginning of the season.
“It was a really strong showing,” said Heavenly J4 coach Mark Norton, who accompanied Christina Probert and her J5s to the event. “I think we dominated in the girls (race).”
In Saturday’s J4 girls race, Heavenly’s Courtney Carmichael fell on one of the course’s top icy pitches, but teammate Kendall Northrop grabbed a podium finish behind Sugar Bowl’s Brandy Barna. Heavenly’s Sydney Dufty also entered the mix, finishing 21st with a solid performance.
In Saturday’s boys J4 race, only one second separated Kirkwood racer Ryan Garrett from the podium. Garrett was fourth, behind first-place independent J.D. Quitiquit, Diamond Peak’s Robert Ramm, and independent Christoff Weber. Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Donnie Little was fifth, Heavenly’s Marty Harris ninth and Sierra’s Matthew Galdin 10th. Heavenly placed P.J. Bacon (12th) and Jamie Moore (25th) among the top 25, just behind Kirkwood’s Erik Sambrailo. KSEF racers Nick Cohee (18th), Travis Johnson (21st), Holden Sapp (24th) and Justin Schiller (29th) all gained valuable experience.
Norton highlighted the performance of Heavenly’s J4 boys. While the two-year age divisions keep the levels of competition even, most of the Heavenly Foundation J4 boys are in their first year in the division.
“Being that they have another year in that same age group, there’s really good potential there,” Norton said.
“Marty and P.J. were at the top of their group last year,” he said. “They came in at the bottom, and they’ve got to climb pretty hard this first year, but the boys will be where we need them to be next year.”
Among the J5 girls, Kirkwood’s Shelby Hawthorne took first ahead of teammate Brittany Cotter on Saturday, with Squaw Valley’s Sara Mancuso completing the podium. Kirkwood placed three more among the top 10, with Brittani Ballantyne fourth, Nicole Petiet sixth and Hilary Sanders seventh. Among the J5 boys, Eric Schlobohm was first for the Alpine Aubern team, with Squaw Valley’s Connery Lundin separating him from third-place teammate Andrew Willoughby. Heavenly’s Kyle Smaine (fourth) and Kirkwood’s Cory Wehan (fifth) finished out the top five. Drew Montgomery of Kirkwood and Heavenly’s Dayne Carmichael finished just outside of the top 10, in 11th and 13th, respectively.
On Sunday, the racers battled a fierce wind for the second two-run GS. Among the J4 girls, Carmichael rebounded from Saturday’s fall for second, just behind teammate Northrop, who posted her second top-three result of the weekend. Dufty was 21st, matching her performance on Saturday.
In the J5 girls race, Kirkwood’s Hawthorne and Cotter showed their consistency with podium finishes behind Squaw’s Mancuso. Kirkwood’s Sanders, Ballantyne and Petiet also finished top-10 with a fifth, sixth, and eighth.
Among the J4 boys, Quitiquit completed the sweep with another first, ahead of Weber and third-place Little. Wehan put Kirkwood into sixth, while Bacon and Harris were seventh and eighth for Heavenly. Matthew Galdin gave Sierra its second top-10 finish with a ninth, and Sambrailo was 11th for Kirkwood. Kirkwood teammate Johnson (18), Heavenly’s Moore (19th) and Kirkwood’s Sapp (23rd) also completed the race.
The race schedule for the J4 and J5 racers continues on Jan. 8-9 with another pair of GS races at Squaw Valley.
“At Squaw Valley, we’ll be looking for even better results,” Norton said.
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