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No home-hill advantage for skiing Vikings

The home advantage didn’t translate well to snow, as South Tahoe’s guests used Tuesday’s slalom to make up ground on the front-running Vikings.

South Tahoe’s Alpine racers entered the race, at Sierra-at-Tahoe, with a two-point lead on North Tahoe in the Tahoe Basin Ski League overall standings, but lost ground in the home slalom. The racers had to cope with a tough course setup that got trickier during the second run.

“It’s been really tough for our team to do well at home just because of the amount of distraction with the familiarity at home,” said South Tahoe head coach Mike Shreve.



The ideal situation for South Tahoe after a disappointing day on the hill would have been a Truckee win, with North Tahoe second, and that’s just what happened. Truckee finished with 337 points, ahead of North Tahoe (329) and South Tahoe (308).

The Vikings tied North Tahoe in the first TBSL meet, a Jan. 5 giant slalom, then pulled ahead over the course of the season with narrow victories. Now, South Tahoe leads the standings by one point with one regular-season race to go. The league heads to Diamond Peak next Wednesday for Incline’s home race.




But Tuesday’s task was tough from the beginning. Top seed Cory Harris, who won at Alpine Meadows earlier in the season, crashed on the first run. Sophomore Chris McKean had a quick first run, finishing in 37.93 seconds, but fell behind on the second. Vikings senior Jon McKean, who entered the race second in the TBSL standings, drew a disqualification after missing gates at the bottom of the second run. A tough day for the home-mountain boys allowed Truckee’s to escape with a relatively easy win, after holding off Incline’s Travis Durfee.

“I went too straight,” said Chris McKean, who still was South Tahoe’s fastest racer, finishing fifth in 77.59. “I ended up just taking out the gates trying to make it.”

Danny Lear, who also has been consistently good for South Tahoe this season, was third after one run, but had similar problems. He finished ninth. Teammate Chris Little was 10th.

“I went too straight at the gates and I ended up missing it,” Lear said.

South Tahoe sophomore Diana Higman actually made up time on the second run to top South Tahoe’s girls. Higman was fourth overall, in 79.97 seconds, behind North Tahoe’s 1-2-3 podium sweep.

“I think I picked up time on the top, not the bottom, because it was really turny on the bottom,” said Higman, the only Viking among the top 10. “I tucked farther down the course because I knew I could handle it.”

Stacey Cook was fastest overall, with a 76.14 combined time, edging teammates Tiana Jones and Heather Allan.

The team that had to travel the second-shortest distance to Sierra also lost ground. With the three California schools dueling for the overall title, Whittell still is in the thick of the battle for the mythical Nevada championship. Absences – like that of top skier Corky Novotny – and disqualifications, though, hurt the already small Warriors team on both sides.

“I think the kids may have just tried too hard,” said Whittell advisor Mike Kiger.

Three of Whittell’s top four boys fell, making the task tougher. Sean Weatherston was the fastest racer for the Warriors, finishing 20th in 82:01. Kim McGlothlin was the top finisher among the school’s girls, finishing 28th.

“The first run, it was a pretty easy course, but it was fast, so on the knoll, if you got too high, you’d bottom out,” said Whittell senior Amber Merkel, who finished one spot behind McGlothlin. “Second run was a lot better, more challenging. It made it a lot more fun.”

With just one regular-season TBSL race remaining, Tuesday’s action set the stage for a showdown between the three California schools. Truckee can’t catch either South Tahoe or North Tahoe for first place, but still could finish second.

“We’re going to have to win the next one if we want to win the league,” Lear said.


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