McKean is king of hill in TBSL |

McKean is king of hill in TBSL

Matt O'Neill

Chris McKean’s ski season ended with a bang.

The South Tahoe High junior claimed the top spot at the season-ending Tahoe Basin Ski League Championships on Tuesday afternoon at Alpine Meadows.

After being seeded 10th overall heading into the competition, McKean cruised through the preliminary races and into duals.

Then the defending champion raced his way into the finals, going up against his toughest competitor in the championship run. In the final race of the day, McKean took on Gary Cook from Truckee, and he knew Cook would give him a tough race.

“There was some pretty tough competition out there,” McKean said. “But it wasn’t until the end, when I was racing Gary, that I was worried.”

Other boys who made it into the final 16 for South Tahoe were Aaron Strickley and Drew Ketelsen, but both were ousted quickly.

McKean’s first-place finish led the way for a banner day for the South Tahoe Vikings as Kristin Royce took second for the girls and freshman Kylese Ziager was the consolation winner.

“Kristin whooped all the girls in the top four,” Viking coach Mike Shreve said.

Royce said her finish was unexpected because of her seeding and the lack of confidence heading into the championships.

“I started out the season on a bad knee, so I was only able to run in three races,” Royce said. “I didn’t think I made it at all.

“But after I made it into the top 16, I jsut skied as hard as I could and ended up finishing pretty high.”

Casey Rise finished fourth but was only a few seconds away from breaking into the top three.

“I was happy with fourth,” Rise said. “I was just happy to be skiing because I hurt my knee pretty badly a couple of weeks ago.”

The girls overall winner was Truckee’s Stacey Cook, who edged out Royce in a very tightly contested race.

“(Cook) had to fight for every race out there,” Shreve said.

Unfortunately for the Whittell Warriors, they didn’t have as much success.

The two top skiers for the Whittell boys, Ben Johnson and Sean Weatherston had difficult days.

Although both made it into the top 16, Johnson was paired with McKean in the first dual, while Weatherston missed a gate in his race.

“Drawing Chris was tough matchup to begin with,” Warrior coach Mike Kiger said. “And the first run for the seeding he didn’t do that well either.”

Weatherston was only .23 seconds behind his competitor, but the missed gate really cost him.

“He lost at one of the gates when he was really going for it,” Kiger said. “I told him there was no sense in holding back.”

While Johnson had a disappointing finish to his season, he still came away with the most points scored and an all-league nomination.

South Tahoe had four members make all-league. For the girls, Diana Higman was fourth overall, followed by Janae Apland in fifth and Alexis Rudd in 10th, while Toby O’Brien was the lone boy at eighth.

Although Danny Lear, McKean and Weatherston all had a great deal of success, they did not score enough points because of their commitments to Far West racing.

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