Vikings carves into TBL’s exisitng order |

Vikings carves into TBL’s exisitng order

David Gignilliat

Mother Nature must be a skier. After more than a week of overcast, snowy conditions, the skies opened up and the sun beamed brightly Tuesday afternoon as the Whittell and South Tahoe Alpine racing teams convened at Kirkwood Ski Resort for a Tahoe Basin League slalom race.

With North Tahoe and Tahoe-Truckee virtually locks this season at 1-2 in the overall standings, the Vikings were not too far behind in third. The South Tahoe girls team finished third (143 points), 32 points behind girls winner North Tahoe. The Viking boys tied with North Tahoe for second, just eight points behind Tahoe-Truckee for the top spot. An undermanned, er, under-womened, Whittell squad, performed well given the circumstances, finishing sixth overall and fourth in the boys races.

“It was a unique turn of events. The boys tied for second place and … were extremely consistent this time in a very difficult race,” said South Tahoe coach Mike Shreve, whose squad avoided crashes that had plagued them in previous races.

On the girls side, South Tahoe’s top racer was Laura Giordano, who captured seventh place with a combined 2:04.30 time. She was followed by Beth Kirkland and Amelia Edwards, who registered in at the 13th and 14th spots, respectively. North Tahoe freshman Julia Mancuso continued her phenomenal season, outclassing her closest competitor by more than three seconds for the day’s top result. Vikes’ Jeff Orr and Chris Little dialed into the top 10, with fourth- and six-place finishes overall. Chris Makowksi, Nick Abelow and Danny Lear stuck close together, manning a Tahoe contingent at the 12th, 13th and 14th spots.

Shreve said he is pleased with his team’s transition to the TBL.

“I feel it has put a carrot out in front of us and the kids want to go after it,” Shreve said. “There’s some world-class caliber kids in this league and it gives you something to shoot for.”

You do the crime, you do the time. A mass absence by the Whittell girls Alpine team at a practice earlier in the week prompted coach Mike Kiger to take only his boys squad to the Kirkwood races Tuesday afternoon as the ladies served a one-race suspension.

The boys team performed well, edging Douglas and Incline to take their spot in the middle of the pack. Whittell racer Ben Johnsom continued his impressive freshman debut, finishing second overall out of the 38 skiers who completed two runs.

“He’s real good kid, real determined,” Kiger said. “When he came in second, a lot of kids would have been happy coming in second. But he wasn’t happy, just determined to do better. He’s not settling for second place.”

Bret Schussel also showed some improvement, Kiger said, placing ninth after the first run before a second-run crash halted what would have been an excellent day.

“It’s not bad for a school of our size. For us, it was improvement,” Kiger said. “Other school’s top eight guys are pretty good, so it doesn’t hurt them as much if someone falls as it hurts us when we have someone fall.”

The entire Whittell team – assuming regular practice attendance – will join STHS on the slopes for a TBL slalom race Feb. 3 at 10 a.m.

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