Whittell’s Norton flies down slopes to win overall, ST boys, girls take 2nd
Payton Norton loves to fly whether it’s on the slopes or in the sky. When he graduates from George Whittell High School, Norton hopes to attend a college with an aviation program and ski team.
He put in more practice flying Thursday, Jan. 25, at Heavenly Mountain Resort, where the Warriors senior flew down the slopes faster than any other competitor to claim the individual victory in the fourth Tahoe Basin Ski League event of the season.
Norton helped the Warriors to a fourth-place finish. The South Tahoe High School boys’ and girls’ teams each finished second, their best results of the season. The boys finished four points shy of first place.
With a foot of fresh snow, the World Cup run, which was half dirt just a few days ago, was primed and ready and provided racers with better conditions than the past few weeks where it was warm, slushy and the courses quickly rutted.
“The conditions yesterday were a little soft, but they weren’t the worst conditions I’ve ever been in,” Norton said. “It’s when it’s [raining], that’s the worst. For ski racing, I like when it’s literally like a downhill ice rink. That’s more fun, you get the high speeds and the track stays nice.”
Whittell and South Tahoe both had finals Thursday as did a couple of other schools. Due to exams, the coaches agreed to push back the start time to 1 p.m. from 10 a.m. and Heavenly accommodated. The athletes had to deal with finals and find their own way to the resort with no school provided transportation. Truckee didn’t make the trip but each school gets to drop its lowest result of the season so the Wolverines will not be penalized.
“It was kind of chaotic, but our athletes’ dedication really worked out,” said South Tahoe head coach Barbra Bedwell.
Norton finished the slalom course twice and was well over a second faster than the 35 other competitors. His combined time was 43.14 seconds.
His best friend, and rival, Winston Pretti, of Incline, recorded the fastest first run but got off course on his second run and didn’t record a time.
“We hang out at races, during the summer and we do a lot of stupid stuff together,” Norton said. “He’s a pretty good skier to be honest, probably better than me. But it’s always fun to see how we do. Since he’s your rival you want to go against him and beat him but I’m also rooting for him to do really well. We congratulate each other.”
South Tahoe brothers Luke and Mark “MJ” Allen were third and fifth, respectively, and four Vikings overall recorded top 10 finishes.
Luke Allen was about two seconds behind Norton and Mark Allen was about two seconds behind his brother.
Also scoring for the Vikings were Logan Langemeier (seventh) and Noah Lyle (10th). They also got strong results from Cameron Grant (14th) and Matt Sullivan (18th).
“The boys race was exciting,” Bedwell said. “We were neck and neck with North Tahoe the whole day and North Tahoe is so strong this year. We had fantastic performances by all our top boys. Overall, it was an amazing team finish. It is the consistency of our boys’ team that really brought it home for us. We have a couple of ‘big guns’ but we also have a really solid core of skiers so that if someone misses a gate, there are several others who can still turn in solid times.”
The field was more limited for the girls with Carson, Incline and Whittell competing with just two girls each and Truckee not being there.
South Tahoe took advantage and challenged North Tahoe for the overall title.
Carissa Buchholz was the top finisher in eight but was followed closely by her teammates Kelsey Buckley (ninth), Tyler Pevenage (11th) and Lyndsey Allen (13th). Allen missed a gate and hiked to get it on her first run but posted the seventh fastest time on her second run.
“We have an amazing core group of girls (Kelsey, Carissa, and Tyler) that all brought in two solid runs exactly when we needed them,” Bedwell said. “It was a really close match with our closest girls rival Douglas and we beat them by only three points.”
The teams passed the half way point in their seasons and next will compete on a slalom course Wednesday, Jan. 31, at Sierra-at-Tahoe.