IMD, U14 Qualifier, Sun Valley
The IMD Team closed out a successful first weekend of racing, with the added benefit of competing on their home turf. SVSEF staged a smooth weekend of racing, with a giant slalom on Friday and slalom events on Saturday and Sunday.
Temps were cold and the course was well-set to start off racing on Friday. SVSEF girls came out with a bang, sweeping the podium on their first run, and taking first and second overall; Paige DeHart won the race and Maya Lightner was second. Paige DeHart carried her success through the weekend, winning both slalom races on Saturday and Sunday. Maya Lightner joined her on the podium again on Sunday, finishing third behind Elisabeth Bocock. In the men’s U14 races, Tommy Normand had a great giant slalom race, finishing second behind Oscar Brown, and Cole Curci and Max Meucci secured top spots in the slalom races – Cole won both events, and Max finished third and fourth on Saturday and Sunday. SVSEF took three of the top six overall spots for the weekend; Paige DeHart was first overall for girls, Maya Lightner was third, and Cole Curci was the overall winner for boys.
Amidst the racing, IMD Head Coach James Tautkus reminded his athletes that “races are a test; they are a benchmark to let us know where we are at; they should affirm what we are doing well and identify what still needs work.” The hard-charging group has a couple race series lined up, with the Wes Baron Memorial and a speed project at Grand Targhee.
USSA, U16 Qualifier, Snowbird
The USSA team skied at Snowbird for a U16 qualifier; it was an amazing weekend, both condition-wise and results-wise. “Our athletes showed up ready to compete and the entire coaching staff was impressed with their effort throughout the series,” noted Head Coach Chuck Harris. Nathan Gowe charged, making the podium every day. Anhwei Kirk led the women’s contingent with solid results each day. Marit Kaiser and Jessica Blackburn came directly from their U16 NPS races at Burke, Vermont. “They stepped off the plane on Saturday and raced on Sunday; to have both of them finish in the top five showed some toughness,” added Harris.
Day 1 – January 11th GS
Women: Saba Grossman 3rd; Anhwei Kirk 10th; Logan Lindstrom 14th
Men: Nathan Gowe 5th (3rd for U16s); Colin Hannah 9th (6th for U16s); Josh Blackburn 10th (7th for U16s); Jett Carruth 19th (15th for U16s)
Day 2 – January 12th SL
Women: Anhwei Kirk 3rd; Saba Grossman 9th; Hannah Ferris 10th
Men: Nathan Gowe 1st; Nils Galloway 6th; Shaw McCoubrey 14th
Day 3 – January 13th SL
Women: Marit Kaiser 3rd; Jessica Blackburn 4th; Anhwei Kirk 7th; Saba Grossman 9th
Men: Nathan Gowe 3rd; Nils Galloway 4th (Nils won the 2nd run and Nathan was 2nd on the 2nd run)
USSA, U16 NPS, Burke
Four U16 athletes competed at Burke, Vermont, for two slalom and two giant slalom competitions as part of the National Project Series (NPS); Ryder Sarchett, Marit Kaiser, Jessica Blackburn and Dasha Romanov are representing SVSEF. The NPS Tech Project brings the best U16s together from throughout the country for a week of training and racing; it is a part of the national pipeline intended to prepare athletes for more elite competition. Athletes have the opportunity to qualify to represent the U.S. at the OPA (Seven Nations) Cup in February based on results.
Women started competition with a slalom in the morning on January 8; Marit Kaiser finished eighth and Dasha Romanov 11th in a field of 30. Jessica Blackburn did not finish her first run of the day. Ryder Sarchett skied out his runs in the men’s slalom, and did not finish his second run in the second men’s slalom in the afternoon. Dasha had an amazing first run in the women’s afternoon slalom, landing the fastest time, but moved down to 18th following her second run. Jessica skied to 13th, and Marit was disqualified in her first run. The project continues today with training.
Although they did not complete both runs of their respective races, two SVSEF skiers clocked the best times on the runs they did complete, which is a substantial success given the field and the stakes; Ryder won the first run of the second race, as did Dasha.
Ryder Sarchett skied fast on January 10th in the slalom, winning the men’s race. He did not finish his second run in the January 11th slalom. Dasha Romanov did a good job of putting her runs together both days, finishing third in the January 10th slalom and taking the win in the January 11th slalom. Teammate Marit Kaiser did not finish in the January 10th slalom, but skied to a solid seventh on January 11th. Jessica Blackburn was 13th in the January 10th slalom and did not finish her second run on January 11th.
Based on results, Dasha qualified to represent SVSEF and the U.S. at the OPA Cup in Meiringen, Switzerland, February 4-15. This is a high-level U16 competition in Europe, and features some of the top athletes from eastern Europe.
North Series, Snow King GS, Jackson Hole
The North Series team traveled to Jackson Hole and Snow King for two giant slalom races to kick off their competition season. “We braved a cold weekend at Snow King with some really good results for all of our kids,” said Head Coach Adele Savaria. “Many of them showed great improvement throughout the weekend and it was fun to see all of their hard work over the past couple of months pay off in their skiing.”
SVSEF had good grouping throughout the weekend, with Rowan Desler, Josie Sarchett and Taylor Hovey going seven-eight-nine for girls in the Saturday giant slalom, and Rowan Desler narrowly missing the podium in fourth and Josie Sarchett cruising to sixth on Sunday. Tucker Smith won both boys’ races handily. Simon Morgan found seventh on Saturday, and Paxton Sammis skied to a great 10th place on Sunday.
FIS, Western Region Elite Tech Series, Big Sky
FIS athletes competed at a Western Region Elite Tech Series at Big Sky, Montana, with two giant slalom and two slalom races. Highlights from the week included a podium for Erin Smith, who was third in the giant slalom on January 14. SVSEF athletes had consistently good results in the top ten, with Bennett Snyder, Harrison Bridger, Lily Fitzgerald, Merumo Ishimaru and Erin Smith all breaking into the top 10. SVSEF women had impressive slalom results as a group on January 13th, with Erin Smith in fifth, Lily Fitzgerald in eighth and Merumo Ishimaru in ninth. “Overall it was an excellent series for us,” said Head Coach Nate Schwing. “We had many athletes scoring career best results, and we had first-year FIS athletes making big move-ups from their start positions.”
MINI WORLD CUP
The Mini World Cup team has been foraying into slalom training, while also taking the time to explore the bowls, terrain park and moguls on Baldy. The team will hold its rescheduled competition this Sunday, January 20th (in place of the scheduled January 6th event).
Gold Team athlete Kevin Bolger most recently competed in Dresden, Germany, as part of the World Cup 2018-2019 circuit. The competitions were staged within the city; a 1.6km track of snow sat amidst grass, crowds, and city buildings. Kevin finished 28th in the men’s skate sprint qualifier on January 12, and 29th overall after heats. He was the second American behind veteran Andy Newell. Kevin next races in Otepaa, Estonia, this coming weekend.
IBU World Cup
SVSEF alum Max Durtschi was called up to compete on the biathlon World Cup circuit. The first competitions he jumped into were in Duszniki Zdroj, Poland; in the 10km on January 12, he finished 40th. Max next races in Arber, Germany.
SVSEF freestyle athletes were at Park City last weekend for the Park City Freestyle Classic, the Intermountain Freestyle Divisional Championships. This was another divisional junior national qualifying event. Sammy Smith was second for her age group on January 12 and first on January 13. Overall, she skied to fourth in the women’s January 12 moguls competition and second on January 13. Up-and-comer Tillie Babcock has built on a great season so far, skiing solid runs to third in her age group on January 12 and second in the January 13 competition. Luke Rizzo finished seventh overall in both events for men.
The Sun Valley Freestyle Spectacular takes place January 26-29 and features SVSEF freestyle athletes on course on Roundhouse slope; this is a great opportunity to view some mogul events and support SVSEF athletes at home.
Freeski athletes have been training at home on Dollar and Baldy, and will have the opportunity to experience some new terrain and features and spend some time in the halfpipe at a camp at Keystone, Colorado, from January 19-26. The group’s first competition will be at home; a USASA event will be hosted at Dollar Mountain, February 2-3, with slopestyle and rail jam competitions.
The Big Mountain crew parted ways, with some athletes headed for Red Mountain for an IFSA Junior National event, and others to Snowbird for another Junior National event.
Snowboard athletes will compete at home this Saturday in the annual Baldy Banked Slalom, held on Baldy. The overall event winner can punch their ticket to the famed Baker Banked Slalom, held at the beginning of February at Mt. Baker.
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The Mini X team has been focusing their efforts on improving in bumps and jumps, spending most of their time most recently on Baldy. The goal is to become better mogul skiers, and athletes have been offered the opportunity to compete in a couple of events outside of the Mini X schedule if they’re ready. The team will soon be adding Air Barn sessions again, and is eager to tackle the mogul course on Roundhouse slope once complete.