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South Shore skiers start trek to national team

Steve Yingling

It’s only the beginning, but Matt Savage and Donnie Little III are tracing the paths many U.S. Ski Team members have followed.

Savage of Kirkwood Ski Education Foundation and Little of the Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Team finished third overall among J4s at the Far West Championships earlier this month at Mammoth Mountain.

“Many of the kids who (place) top five go on to represent the United States,” said Kirkwood Program Director Darryl Whitaker. “It’s the funest age to watch them ski; it’s just in start of their careers and there’s a lot of talent there.”

Savage contended for the Cole Cup, which goes to the top overall J4 boy and girl at the championships. The 12-year-old Savage won the giant slalom with a combined two-run time of 76.62.

“Matt’s pretty good, but it’s a heck of a long road for a kid. There’s a lot more defeats than there are victories,” Whitaker said.

However, Savage lost some ground to Cole Cup winner Eric Mann of Mammoth Mountain and runner-up Tim Jitloff of Alpine Meadows by placing sixth in the slalom (82.57) and seventh in the super-G (60.09).

Mann, who won the super-G, accumulated 240 points, compared to 225 for Jitloff and 176 for Savage.

Sierra’s Christopher Little, who finished fourth overall, excelled in the technical disciplines: slalom and giant slalom. Little (80.62) was runner-up to Jitloff (79.13) in the slalom and fourth in the giant slalom. His 18th-place super-G performance prevented him from winning the Cole Cup.

Heavenly Foundation’s Chris McKean and Cory Harris were poised for the top 10 overall, but ran into trouble on their second slalom runs. McKean was third in the super-G and eighth in the GS while Harris was fourth in the super-G and 10th in the GS.

Other area J4 boys results were: Hunter Harris, 18th in GS, 29th in slalom and 37th in super-G; Danny Lear, 11th in slalom, 20th in GS and 15th in super-G; Jason Fiori, 21st in GS, 38th in slalom and 61st in super-G; Ben Johnson, 23rd in GS, 17th in slalom and 50th in super-G; George Boe, 30th in GS, 37th in slalom and 57th in super-G; Ira Monge, 33rd in GS and 42nd in super-G; Brett Schussel, 15th in slalom, 37th in GS and 49th in super-G; Brian Jones, 39th in GS; Sean Weatherston, 39th in super-G, 33rd in slalom and 43rd in GS; Robert Greathouse, 50th in GS, 78th in super-G and 59th in slalom; Leo Burke, 67th in super-G; Travis Williams, 68th in super-G and 54th in slalom; Nick Vuksinich, 98th in super-G; Aaron Sanders, 99th in super-G and 80th in slalom; and Richard Grove, 51st in slalom.

Diana Higman of Heavenly and Kimberly Hawk of Sierra cracked the top overall in the J4 girls battle for the Cole Cup.

Higman finished no worse than 15th, claiming eighth in the super-G, ninth in the slalom and 15th in the super-G. She was eighth overall with 78 points. Julia Mancusco of Squaw Valley, who won the super-G and slalom, took home the Cole Cup with 280 points.

Hawk demonstrated consistency, claiming 10th overall by placing 11th in the super-G and GS and 16th in the slalom.

In addition, Kristin Royce was 45th in super-G and 48th in GS and slalom; Allison Zuckerman was 47th in super-G, 49th in GS and 51st in slalom.

Meanwhile, Sierra’s Donnie Little captured first in the slalom en route to taking bronze overall in the Rust Cup for J5 boys.

Little blitzed the slalom field, winning the two-run event by nearly two seconds. He also placed eighth in GS and 18th in super-G.

Justin Ray Cory of Sugar Bowl captured the Rust Cup without winning an event. Robbie Flamire of Diamond Peak won both the GS and super-G, but went scoreless in the slalom and finished second overall.

There was little drop-off for the third Little, Jonathan. The Sierra skier claimed seventh overall with discipline results of fourth in slalom, eighth in super-G and 19th in GS.

Sierra made the most of its entries. With only 12 skiers, Sierra had five top 10 overall performances.

Rounding out the local J5 boys results were Brett Andersen, 17th in GS, 18th in slalom and 22nd in super-G; Marty Harris, 11th in slalom and 21st in GS; Bryan Finkel, 25th in GS, 24th in slalom and 30th in super-G; R.J. Garder, 32nd in GS and slalom and 54th in super-G; Thomas Schwindeman, 33rd in GS, 26th in slalom and 51st in super-G; Kyle Kracht, 37th in super-G, 20th in slalom and 27th in super-G; Ian Norman, 57th in GS, 37th in slalom and 73rd in super-G; P.J. Bacon, 72nd in GS, 46th in slalom and 69th in super-G; and Parker Cushing, 73rd in GS, 63rd in slalom and 68th in super-G.

Dominique Kun of Snow Summit won the J5 girls Rust Cup by a mere four points over Shasta’s Jessica Reed. Katie Sawaya of Kirkwood was 13th overall.

Sawaya was seventh in the GS and 17th in the super-G.

Besides Sawaya, local J5 female finishes included Kylese Zaiger, 25th in super-G, 30th in GS and 23rd in slalom; Tamara Sharkey, 41st in super-G and 42nd in GS; Kendall Northrop, 57th in super-G and 35th in slalom; Danielle Zuckerman, 65th in super-G, 57th in slalom and 56th in GS; and Casey Rise, 66th in super-G, 60th in GS and 58th in slalom.

Squaw Valley danced off with the team championship, compiling 3.268 points. Northstar was second with 3.266 points, then came Mammoth with 3.247. Heavenly was fifth with 1,502 points, Sierra was seventh with 1,283 and Kirkwood claimed ninth with 924.

More than 350 children participated in the three-day competition, a number that Whitaker says dispels a growing myth.

“The record shows ski racing isn’t dead in the U.S. It’s still growing,” Whitaker said.


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