North Tahoe edges by for TBSL title |

North Tahoe edges by for TBSL title

by Dan Thomas

North Tahoe’s skiers finally pried South Tahoe High’s cold fingers from the Tahoe Basin Ski League’s overall championship trophy on Wednesday.

“I think it just wasn’t our day, wasn’t our year,” said South Tahoe head ski coach Mike Shreve, whose team entered the final regular-season TBSL slalom race Wednesday at Diamond Peak with a one-point lead for the championship. “What it takes to win an overall title is an overall performance, and we didn’t have one this year.”

North Tahoe was first in the day’s girls race, and the school’s boys were second, propelling the Lakers to a season-high 342 points. South Tahoe finished third overall, as the boys – just two races after winning their first TBSL race in seven years – were fifth. Those finishes allowed South Tahoe to hold off Truckee for second place, as the Vikings bettered last year’s regular-season finish by one place.

Whittell couldn’t surpass Incline for the league’s mythical Nevada championship, despite the best performance of the season from the school’s boys. The Warriors were third in the boys team race, but the girls were sixth as Incline finished fifth overall, and completed the season fifth in the standings.

Todd Echan, who raced once this season before devoting his time to the school’s basketball team, boosted the Warriors, with an eighth-place finish – two spots behind teammate Ben Johnson.

“It was really nice,” said Warriors ski advisor Mike Kiger. “Obviously, we had Echan, and it was pretty impressive for him to step in and deliver an eighth-place, and that helped us considerably.”

Whittell’s Corky Novotny recorded the fastest run of the day on the girls side – a 31.11-second sprint through the slalom gates – but had to hike her second run. Still, Novotny hiked to make the missed gate, and had Whittell’s girls best finish of the day – 17th – with a combined time of 1 minute, 24.17 seconds .

“That’s a really good thing to do for attitude, and a kid who’s used to being No. 1,” Kiger said of his Far West veteran racer. “She did it for the team, so that’s good.”

South Tahoe’s title hopes faded as the Vikings dropped off considerably behind a top-10 finisher in both the girls and boys races. Vikings sophomore Cory Harris, who crashed in the Feb. 8 home meet at Sierra-at-Tahoe, was South Tahoe’s top finisher, in third with a 1:06.48 combined time. Classmate Diana Higman was the top Viking in the girls race, taking seventh in 1:17.16. But the next two Vikings were Chris Little, 13th in the boys race, and Beth Kirkland, who finished in the same position among the girls.

“We had two top-10 finishers today, and that was it,” Shreve said.

Toby O’Brien was 19th, and Jon McKean hiked a gate to finish 24th among the boys, while Lilly Palmieri was 15th in the girls race.

But the overall championship slipped away despite their efforts. South Tahoe led the standings for much of the season after a first-place tie with North Tahoe in the first race Jan. 5 at Alpine Meadows.

“When you’ve got so many good skiers spread out over so many schools, it’s tough to dip into those points,” Shreve said. “We just got spanked today, big-time.”

Behind the top-10 performances of Johnson and Echan, Sean Weatherston helped pace Whittell’s boys to their solid finish, finishing 15th in 1:14.13. Teammates Brett Schussel (23rd), Michael Kiger (28th), Bryce Schussel (30th), Eric Sanders (36th) and Nick Grasso (42nd) followed.

While Wednesday’s slalom wrapped the regular season for the TBSL, there is one more race on the schedule. The league’s championship slalom races take place Feb. 29 at Sierra-at-Tahoe. Coaches register their top eight boys and top eight girls, and the skiers with the top 16 times in each field face off in head-to-head elimination rounds, which narrow the field to one champion. Racing begins at 10 a.m.

Notes: South Tahoe did have two first-place finishes in Wednesday’s B-division races. Drew Ketelsen won the boys race with a combined time of 1:18.70, and Katrina Stoddard was first in the girls race, finishing in 1:34.19.

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