Norton notches perfect score in Wild West finale, South Shore skiers tackle fast track at Mammoth
MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. — The Wild West U-16 Junior Championships Qualifier Series concluded Feb. 27-29 at Mammoth Mountain. The three-day event held on Cornice Bowl determined the final selection for the Junior Olympics, with skiers blazing down the fast track.
“Speed scares some kids, and with warm daytime temperatures and cold nights the track was very fast,” Diamond Peak Ski Team U-16 coach Raquel Norton said. “And wax also plays a factor. We’re constantly taking temperatures and checking the humidity, as that determines what type of wax will be fast for the conditions.”
Led by Stateline skier Payton Norton, Diamond Peak hit the wax correctly at Mammoth. Norton produced a perfect score of 500 over the three-day event, showing why he is first overall in the Far West division standings.
In the series, Norton only conceded the first-place position twice — both times to a National Training Group (NTG) skier. He should be a favorite for national team selection, with only the Regional Championships scheduled for March 17-20 at Mammoth Mountain in his way.
Based on performances at regionals, athletes are then selected for U-16 Nationals held March 30-April 3 in Park City, Utah. Current national team members are guaranteed an automatic start at nationals, giving Far West competitors one more chance to show the U.S. Ski Team why they deserve NTG recognition.
Zephyr Cove’s Gunnar Barnwell also made selection, placing 12th on the third day of racing at Mammoth. Barnwell, a first year U-16 skier, beat NTG racer Dashiell Prince-Judd of Sugar Bowl Ski Team to finish third best for skiers born in 2001.
“The fact we have somewhat limited speed training terrain at Diamond Peak compared to Mammoth, but dominate the top 20 spots shows how competitive this young team is,” Diamond Peak coach Eddie Schelert said.
South Lake Tahoe’s Luke Allen finished 38th in points during the Wild West series. Norton, Barnwell and Allen all started racing for Raquel Norton from age 5, and have delivered strong results while progressing in their careers.
The Far West race scheduled for Heavenly Mountain Resort March 13-14 has been canceled. Diamond Peak skiers will continue training on their home mountain in preparation for Regional Championships.
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After more than 70 years of operating with a term deemed derogatory by many Native Americans, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has changed its name to Palisades Tahoe.