South Shore skiers find out who’s best in West
The ski racing season for J4 and J5 from the three South Shore ski federations ended Monday with the Far West Championships at Mammoth, Calif.
With athletes from California, Nevada and Arizona gunning for the two Cole Cup awards for the top J4 (9-10) and J5 (11-12) skiers, the Heavenly Ski Federation’s Courtney Carmichael and Kendall Northrop entered the competition as the favorites for the award among the J4 girls. But several racers from around Tahoe and beyond also were in the mix for both awards.
Carmichael won the J4 girls super-G on Saturday, but crashed in the GS on Sunday, taking her out of contention. Northrop seized the opportunity and took the cup with a giant slalom win, a second in the slalom behind Carmichael and a third in the super-G. Arman Serebrakian of the Northstar-at-Tahoe team won the boys Cole Cup. The two cup winners join 15 other J4s from the country’s other USSA regions at next week’s Whistler Cup at Whistler, British Columbia.
Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Jake Baker, who has been consistently good all year, added another highlight, winning Tuesday’s informal dual slalom and taking second among J5 boys in the GS.
“Jake did good,” said Sierra coach Scott Bell. “His performance was outstanding. He was aggressive.”
Teammate Justine Ferguson was 23rd among J5 girls in the GS, her first Far West race. Curtis Muntz finished every race, and joined J4s Katie Harding and Matt Galding on the Sierra team.
Consistent Shelby Hawthorne and surprising Brittany Cotter buoyed the Kirkwood Ski Federation girls at the championships. Hawthorne, the J5 skier coach Jim Hein called Kirkwood’s best all season, took second in the GS Saturday, fourth in the next day’s super-G and finished with a second in the slalom the third day. Cotter skied out of a 28th and a 20th in the GS and the super-G, respectively, to post a fifth in Monday’s slalom and a second in Tuesday’s head-to-head slalom.
“Brittany Cotter just came out of nowhere those last two days and cranked it up 10 notches and realized she could be a contender,” said Hein, who coaches the J4s along with J5s coach Mark Payne.
Sunday and Monday marked two big days for the Kirkwood team. On Sunday, Bryce Wehan finished ninth to lead Nick Cohee (10th), Ryan Garrett (11th) and Erik Sambarillo (15th) into the top 15. Brittani Ballantyne was 11th after Hawthorne in the J5 slalom, ahead of teammates Nicole Petit (17), Brittany Cotter (20) and Hillary Sanders (39). Drew Montgomery was 56th in the J5 boys super-G.
“That was a pretty big day, four kids right there,” Hein said. “GS has always been Kirkwood’s forte, and those four kids have all had the potential to do this, but it’s been really hard to get them all to do it on the same day. Everything just fit into place.”
On Saturday, Garrett had the best result of the week for Kirkwood’s boys with an eighth in super-G, with Sambarillo 11th, Bryce Wehan 18th and Nick Cohee 23rd.
On Monday, crashes hurt Kirkwood’s J4 boys, but Nick Cohee finished 12th, ahead of teammates Bryce Wehan (33rd), Philip Frank (46th) and Justin Schiller (49th) in slalom. Hawthorne and Cotter both made the podium.
Bryce Wehan had another top-10 finish for Kirkwood, taking eighth in the head-to-head slalom.
“Kirkwood walked away with a total of, like, 14 medals,” Hein said. “Kirkwood’s kind of a small team, compared to Heavenly, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, that have 40-50 kids on their teams, so for these kids to pull in that many medals, I think that was real good.”
The top tier of Heavenly’s team – Northrop and Carmichael – wasn’t the only part that had encouraging results at Mammoth. Two of the team’s 8-year-old racers, Robert Pulford and Kyle Smaine, finished among the top 16 in the slalom, with two years still to race in the age group. Dana Nott was 12th, Margo Cutter 25th and Becca Gardener 47th among girls in the J5 slalom. P.J. Bacon had a seventh and Marty Harris a ninth among J4 boys in the slalom, and return to the age group next year with R.J. Gardner and Marty Rahbeck. Celine Cutter was 37th among the J4 girls and Natalie Rastello 41st in the slalom.
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