South Shore skiers compete at Junior Championships qualifiers |

South Shore skiers compete at Junior Championships qualifiers

Local skier Payton Norton slides past a gate while competing for Diamond Peak during a Junior Championships qualifying race at Snow Summit.
Courtesy Photo |

BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — Athletes from the north met athletes from the south and central regions to compete in the second round of Junior Championships qualifying races held Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 — including for from the South Shore. Snow Summit hosted the Far West races for the U-16 athletes, which consisted of one day of slalom and two days of giant slalom.

Friday’s slalom race held on Side Show was a gradual slope out of the start with a slight pitch on the finish. The course sets varied from round with multiple turns to straight and fast, requiring skiers to use their entire skill set to attack each course.

The Diamond Peak Ski Team that included Whittell’s Payton Norton and Madison Idso represented well. It had athletes on the podium two out of three days, and had top-five finishes on all three race days.

Norton returned to competition with a fifth-place finish in the slalom after having suffered knee and ankle sprains during last month’s competition — he then took sixth and second in the giant slalom. Idso took eighth in the slalom before skiing to 15th- and 10th-place finishes in the giant slalom.

Other South Shore participants in the event included Heavenly Foundation’s Sean Dunkelman and Mary Weyland. Dunkleman took 29th in the slalom Friday, then 39th and 33rd in the giant slalom races; Weyland placed 37th in slalom before skiing to 46th and 47th in giant slalom.

Dunkelman, Norton and Idso are all in the running for Junior Championships qualifying after two of the three races. From the nine total races, each skier’s best five are recorded — 25 boys and 25 girls qualify for the event formerly known as the Junior Olympics.

Skiers braved some harsh conditions both Friday and Saturday, making racing extremely difficult. Snow, rain, fog and undesirable snow conditions created ruts and holes in the race line, making it difficult for the next athlete to run the Miracle Mile.

Saturday saw impressive finishes despite horrible conditions. The conditions almost forced Diamond Peak to pull its skiers from the event.

“Conditions were such that we came very close to pulling our entire team from Saturday’s competition,” DPST U-16 coach Raquel Norton said. “However, the two-hour delay gave us what we needed — a clearing of fog, course dye and pine boughs allowed us to continue to race and score some badly needed points. And do so safely, thank goodness.”

Far West athletes will next compete in Super G at Mammoth Mountain Resort Feb. 14 and 15. The last Junior Championships qualifier will be held at the end of February.

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