Freestyle Travel, Junior Nationals, Snowbird
Five SVSEF athletes qualified for and competed at Freestyle Junior Nationals, held at Snowbird in Utah. Sammy Smith, Luke Rizzo, Rainey Wilson, Tillie Babcock, Erik Babcock represented the organization in a singles event and duals. In low visibility conditions, Sammy Smith finished fourth in the women’s qualifying run, giving her the green light for finals. Rainey Wilson finished 57th and Tillie Babcock 58th. Luke Rizzo qualified in 19th place for men, and Erik Babcock finished 53rd for qualifiers. In singles finals, Sammy Smith finished fifth in the country. She was fourth in duals overall. Luke Rizzo skied to 18th in finals for singles.
IFSA National and Regional Events
The Big Mountain team competed at three different venues last weekend. Five athletes competed at the Crested Butte National; Molly Kucher had a great event, finishing sixth for women 15-18. Joe Goitiandia was the top SVSEF skier for men in 26th. Bode Skillern was 39th, Thor Jaramillo 42nd and Alex Austin 44th.
Three skiers competed at the Brundage Regional. Axel Diehl skied a nice first run, putting him in second for that round and 5th overall. Owen Miller was seventh and Michael Nannini 11th.
Brian Heekins, Sunny Pratt and Will Price represented SVSEF at the Big Sky Regional. Brian finished 15th, Will eighth and Sunny seventh for women.
Prep & Comp, Western Club Championships, Soldier Hollow
It was a great weekend in Heber, Utah, for the Western Club Championships. Saturday was a classic 5km in the AM and team skate sprint in the afternoon. Eight SVSEF racers competed.
Eva Grover and Quinn Closser put together some solid results, going 1-2 in the distance and racing to third as a team in the relay. Anika Vandenburgh and Gretel Huss skied to second in their qualifier just seconds behind Eva and Quinn. They made the finals and ended up sixth.
Nathan Smoller was third in the distance (U20s, 6th overall) and he and Alex Shafer made it to the finals in the relay placing fifth. Alex was sixth in the individual 5km for U16 boys. In the U16 girls individual race, Gretel Huss was eighth, Svea Leidecker 11th, Anika Vandenburgh 12th and Gina Greenberg 19th.
Sunday was a pursuit race. Eva Grover again took the win for U18/20 women, and Quinn Closser was third. Nathan Smoller finished fourth for U18/20 men, and Alex Shafer was sixth in the U16 boys race. SVSEF skiers Gretel Huss, Anika Vandenburgh, Svea Leidecker and Gina Greenberg finished eighth, ninth, tenth and 17th, respectively.
Prep, Comp & PG, Junior Nationals, Anchorage
from Program Director Rick Kapala
Junior National races are being hosted by the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage on the extensive trail system at Kincaid Park.
Monday’s race was a freestyle 5km for all age classes of women (U16,U18, U20) and 5km for U16 Boys. U18 and U20 boys raced a 10km. The course was rolling with lots of quick transitions and offered our skiers a different feeling course than the big climbs common to our Intermountain courses. Conditions were fast on older transformed snow and the kids all said they really liked the course after the race. Johnny posted the second fastest time of the day among all boys, being bested only by Gus Schumacher of Alaska. Johnny and Gus skied together on the winning USA relay team at World Junior Championships. Johnny, who started on the course three minutes in front of Gus, said, “ I knew I had to take it out hard and try to get a gap because Gus finishes really fast.” Johnny had a slim lead over Gus with two kilometers to go, but true to form, Gus was able to claw back the time needed to slip by Johnny in the final stretches of the course. It was a really good race for Johnny no matter how you cut it.
Overall, the Sun Valley kids had a good start to the week, with eight different skiers earning top 10 in the US, led by Johnny Hagenbuch’s national championship in the U18 Boys. Johnny was joined on the podium for U20 Scott Schulz, who took second, and Scott was joined in the U20 men’s field by Adam Witkowski, who posted a ninth place finish. Also posting top 10s were Sammy Smith in fourth, Anja Grover in ninth and Logan Smith 10th for three SV gals in the top ten of the U16 girls. Sophia Mazzoni earned a top 10 with an eighth in the U18 women and Bjorn Halvorsen earned his first top ten medal with a ninth in the U16 boys.
Wednesday featured a classic individual sprint on a 1.4km course, with a really steep climb at the midway point followed by a high-speed plunging downhill and tight turn into the finish stretch. The days format was as follows: all skiers complete one all-out effort qualifying lap of the sprint course to try and post a top 30 time to get into the heats of their respective age classes. Once into the heats, the skiers are divided into five quarterfinals with six skiers per heat; the top two from each heat advance to the semifinals, along with the next two fastest skiers. Then the fastest two skiers from each semi advance along with the two fastest skiers to the finals.
Sun Valley skiers had an exceptional day in the sprint qualifier with a best ever 13 skiers making it into the afternoon heats. Leading the way for Sun Valley were Sophia Mazzoni (U18) and Logan Smith (U16) who both posted the fastest qualifying times in their age classes, along with Lily Brunelle (U20) who posted a second fastest qualifier for her class. The other SVSEF skiers who qualified for the heats included, on the girls side, Samantha Smith (U16), Sarah Morgan and Anja Jensen for U18 women, and Heidi Booher for U20 women. The boys who qualified for the heats included Scott Schulz, Adam Witkowski and Eli Eppolito (U20 men), Johnny Hagenbuch and Haydn Halvorsen (U18 men) and Bjorn Halvorsen, U16 men.
The afternoon brought challenging conditions as the course deteriorated into sugary deep snow, which made for tough climbing and tricky downhills. The Sun Valley kids though managed the conditions well, with again eight different SVSEF skiers posting top tens. Leading the way was Logan Smith who earned a national championship in the U16 Girls race. Logan successfully defended the sprint championship she won last year at the 2018 Junior Nationals held at Soldier Hollow. Joining her with podium finishes were Sarah Morgan who has the best the result of her season with a silver medal in the U18 women, and Johnny Hagenbuch, who returned to the podium for a second time with a third place in the U18 boys. Also earning top tens for our community were Scott Schulz in fourth and Adam Witkowski seventh in the U20 boys, Bjorn Halvorsen eighth in the U16 boys, Lily Brunelle fifth for U20 women and Samantha Smith fourth for U16 gals. This was Sammy’s second race finishing fourth, and it’s a really solid week so far as she is actually a U14 (13 years old) who is racing up into the U16 age class. She also just competed at Freestyle Junior Nationals held at Snowbird, Utah, immediately before the start of Cross Country Junior Nationals.
Also skiing at the Championships for Sun Valley are Ted Yewer and Sebi Radl Jones (U18 boys), Luci Ludwig (U16 girls) and Tia Vontver, Jenna Nurge and Ella Wolter (U18 girls) to round out the 20 SVSEF skiers who are in attendance.
Next up is Friday’s mass start distance classic races with 5km for U16 boys and girls, 10km for U18 boys and U18 and U20 girls and 15km for U20 boys.
SVSEF is hosting the 2019 U16 Western Region Junior Championships, which are currently underway. Find the schedule and learn more about the event here.
In the first day of competition, SVSEF put six out of 14 athletes competing in the top 10. Four SVSEF women were top 10 in the super G race, and two SVSEF men made the cut.
FIS, NorAm Finals, Burke
SVSEF’s Jack Smith is competing at NorAm finals at Burke Mountain in Vermont. He has finished first for U19s in both GS events, and moved up from bib 87 to 25. Alum Kipling Weisel is also competing; he finished 11th in the second GS and 27th in the March 14 slalom.
FIS, Western Region Junior Championships, Alpine Meadows
Competition is currently underway for the Western Region Junior Champs. In the men’s giant slalom on Tuesday, March 12, Max Noddings was the top skier in seventh for SVSEF. Bridger Harrison was next in 11th, and Blake Bathum joined them for top-20 in 16th. The women raced slalom the same day. Lily Fitzgerald made the podium, skiing to second behind PNSA’s Katie Holm. The men raced GS again the next day; Blake Bathum was SVSEF’s top finisher in eighth. In the women’s slalom, Lily Fitzgerald was fifth and Allie Rathfon 19th. In their third GS race, Max Noddings was 10th, Bridger Harrison 11th and Blake Bathum 13th.
In his last competition for the season, SVSEF alum and 2018 Olympian Chase Josey competed at the Mammoth Grand Prix. He finished just off the podium in fourth, behind Yuto Totsuka (Japan), Patrick Burgener (Switzerland) and Derek Livingston (Canada).
Alum Miles Havlick joined the Utah Utes last year as their cross country ski coach; he recently led his team to victory at NCAA Championships, held this year in Stowe, Vermont. There were several SVSEF alumni competing at the event for their respective teams. Casey Wright (Australian, former PG) was 10th in the women’s 5km skate, Sarah Goble (former PG) was 20th, and Annika Landis finished 36th. In the men’s 10km skate, Peter Wolter had a good race, finishing 15th overall. Braden Becker (PG) was 29th, Sam Wood (PG) 33rd and Eli Jensen 36th. In the distance classic, Sarah Goble was 19th for women in the 15km, Casey Wright 21st and Annika Landis 25th. Braden Becker skied to 18th in the men’s 20km, Eli Jensen was just behind him in 19th, Peter Wolter finished 30th and Sam Wood 35th.