Norton wins twice at Wild West; U-16 series resumes at Northstar California
TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Wild West U-16 Junior Championships Qualifier Series resumed Jan. 29-31 at Northstar California, with skiers battling wild conditions during three days of racing. South Shore skier Payton Norton continued his winning ways while racing for Diamond Peak Ski Team, picking up victories on two of the three days.
Norton delivered victories in both slalom on Saturday, Jan. 30, and giant slalom on Sunday, Jan. 31. The Zephyr Cove native won by a second-and-a-half Sunday, and is leading the Diamond Peak charge as part of a strong U-16 Far West team.
The second Wild West event began Friday, Jan. 29, in a torrential downpour on Northstar’s Logger’s Loop/Surprise. Things got off to a wild start, with much of the field covering themselves in trash bags while waiting to make their giant slalom run.
Gunnar Barnwell was the South Shore’s top finisher Friday, placing 19th for DPST. Barnwell barely survived a large hole that took out Norton, who crashed but still managed to finish just three-tenths back of his teammate.
Saturday saw better conditions at Northstar, and DPST skiers took full advantage over two slalom runs. Norton led after the first run and secured the victory while Barnwell took 12th, moving up three spots from his first run.
Falling snow, flat light and cold temperatures Sunday pushed back the start of the two-run giant slalom so that eight inches of snow could be cleared off the course. Crew, athletes and coaches combined to straighten out the course before the skiers got back to work.
Norton stormed out of the gates for a first-place standing after the opening run, then conditions deteriorated. A few turns ate up a handful of racers, but Norton was able to stay atop the field — Barnwell skied to a 17th-place finish.
South Lake Tahoe’s Luke Allen participated in the last two days of the event for DPST, missing Friday due to school. Allen took 52nd in slalom Saturday and finished 39th in giant slalom Sunday.
Lyndsey Allen of Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation also competed last weekend. She finished 49th in giant slalom and suffered a crash in slalom.
On the Wild West series, only the speed event at Mammoth Mountain Feb. 27-29 stands between racers and Junior Championship qualification. DPST has a handful of skiers in the top 30, with Norton, Barnwell and Luke Allen all having a shot at the elite squad — now it all comes down to speed.