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Tibbetts make successful return to Heavenly team

Steve Yingling, Tribune Sports Editor

Three years removed from competitive bump skiing made Cristie Tibbetts smarter — and better than ever on moguls.

After spending the past two years at the University of California-Berkeley to establish a career outside of skiing, Tibbetts has returned to her roots on the South Shore. That means the 21-year-old is skiing again for the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation freestyle team.

“I’m trying to make a comeback, I guess,” said Tibbetts, an outreach advisor for Lake Tahoe Community College.

Tibbetts didn’t miss a beat in her return, finishing third in Far West singles competition Saturday and third in duals Sunday at Alpine Meadows.

“She’s actually skiing better now,” said Jere Crawford, Heavenly’s eighth-year coach. “Maybe it’s because she’s older and smarter. She’s just having fun with it.”

Her singles run drew a score of 21.81 from the judges.

“I was happy with how I skied, not having much training over the past three years,” Tibbetts said. “I was really amazed at the level of female competition. When I started there was just a handful of us. They’re a lot better and a lot younger now.”

The presence of experienced skiers like Tibbetts and Ryan Hickey is invaluable to Crawford, whose team is mainly comprised of skiers who haven’t entered high school yet.

Hickey is attempting to top a sensational 2000-01 season, which saw him make the semifinals of the Papa John’s Bumps and Jumps pro event at Heavenly and win a world junior duals title. He started in midseason form, placing third in singles (24.66) and following that performance by winning Sunday’s duals.

“It’s almost easy for him to win duals,” Crawford said. “He’s really fast and stays really relaxed. People get tense in duals and that’s not good.”

Even though Tibbetts’ full-time occupation will limit her training, she plans to use the Far West events as a springboard to bigger things.

“I want to make the national qualifiers and nationals in March and from there, depending on my results, I should be able to get back on the Nor Am circuit and hopefully make the U.S. Ski Team.”

Heavenly’s success didn’t stop with their top guns.

Courtney Royce was fifth overall in the female division. Her score of 16.79 also placed her second among J3s. Also, Tamara Sharkey was 12th overall and fourth in J3s.

In addition, Thomas Schwindeman came in eighth overall and won the J2 class while pounding out a score of 20.98; Sho Kashima was12th overall, fourth in J2s at 20.02; Jerel Dutton, 15th overall and fourth J3 at 18.99; Jason Strull, 19th overall and seventh J2 at 18.52; Eric Nageotte, 25th overall and ninth J2 at 17.32; Jimmy Roberts, 27th overall and No. 1 J4 at 16.25; and Scott Lusby, 41st overall and 12th J3 at 6.05.

Schwindeman was runner-up to Hickey in duals, while Nageotte made the round-of-eight and tied for fifth place. Royce also made the round-of-eight and tied for fifth.

“I was really happy with how everybody did,” Crawford said. “The kids who were preadolescent are adolescents now and they are bigger and stronger and over the summer they got better.”

Other South Shore singles results included unattached Brent Abrams finishing 22nd overall and eighth among J2s at 18.07; Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Chris Stamey, 32nd overall at 12.96; and Tamara Stamey 13th overall.

Area bumpers continue Far West action Jan. 5-6 at Squaw Valley USA.


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