Athlete of the Month: February 2020

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Dasha Romanov, Alpine FIS

Dasha Romanov is a senior at the Sun Valley Community School, but is a first-year FIS athlete. This season, she has seen success at NorAms and FIS races, earning a spot on a training and racing trip to Europe with the U.S. Development women’s team. In Europe, she tackled FIS races appropriate for her age and where she is developmentally, to see success and also compete in challenging fields. She competed in Utah for the FIS Elite Series – she had a number of good results, especially in slalom in her first runs, and was able to qualify for U.S. Nationals (unofficial). Most recently, she competed at Junior Nationals at Snowbasin, where she reached the podium in the slalom. Skiing to third place in a field that included skiers up to 20 years in age was a big accomplishment for a first-year FIS athlete. “She is extremely self-disciplined, amazingly so,” said Schwing. “Dasha battled some injuries earlier this season, with an ankle roll in the fall and a concussion at Thanksgiving Camp, which kept her out for much of December. She has definitely battled through those injuries, and it’s been awesome to see her succeed despite some setbacks.”
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Jack Smith, Alpine PG

Jack Smith, who graduated from the Sun Valley Community School in 2019, is currently a member of the U.S. Alpine “D” Team, as well as the Western Region PG Team. Jack has been competing on the NorAm circuit this season, and based on results as well as discretion, was selected to represent the U.S. at World Juniors in Norway. He is the third SVSEF male skier to qualify for World Juniors in recent years, behind notable former SVSEF athletes Tanner Farrow and Kipling Wiesel. “Jack has clearly made it, based on his work ethic and passion for the sport – there is no mistake that he wants to be a ski racer. That’s what he works for, and it’s been cool to see him get the nod for World Juniors,” said SVSEF FIS coach Nate Schwing.
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Dasha, third in slalom at Junior Nationals

Week in Review: March 14

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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.
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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.
Crested Butte results
Brundage Regional results
Big Sky Regional results
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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.
[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.3.1"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.3.1" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_image src="" _builder_version="3.3.1"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.3.1" custom_margin="-26px|||"]Logan Smith with the U16 sprint victory, photo by Michael Dinneen
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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.



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[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="" _builder_version="3.3.1"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.3.1" custom_margin="-26px|||"]Sarah Morgan (L), second in the U18 sprint, photo by Michael Dinneen
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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.


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Chase Josey

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).

NCAA Championships

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.


Week in Review: February 13

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Big Mountain athletes at Grand Targhee
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Comp, PG and Prep, JNQ, Bogus Basin


Going into the Bogus Basin JNQs, a number of SVSEF athletes had already secured qualification to Junior Nationals. There were a few kids out with illness, but by and large, the kids skied well again, with a number earning podiums and winning races on the weekend. Saturday was a classic interval start, and Sunday was a skate interval start.

A couple of SVSEF athletes had real breakthrough races, which ultimately helped them qualify for Junior Nationals. Sebi Radl-Jones had his best qualifier of the year on a really tough course. The freestyle races on Sunday were really tough, which we haven’t typically seen at Bogus; they had reconfigured the courses with more challenging terrain for these races. Tia Vontver also had a really good race. Tia has been super positive throughout all of her time on the cross country team – she’s a good teammate, a good hard worker, and she doesn’t get too rattled,” said Program Director and Coach Rick Kapala. “The course favored her, as she likes skating more than classic, she's a good climber, and she’s not super big, so the terrain gave her an opportunity to ski to her strengths.”

Ella Wolter, who had probably already secured a spot at JNs based on results at previous JNQs, was second in the 10km women’s skate race. She’s had good results the last few JNQs (Soho and the first day at Bogus), but it was impressive that she came back out and did it again. “She has never finished second in a JNQ in her career, and she did it in a tough field,” explained Kapala. “For her to be coming into race form in a really strong way right now is really good.”

Johnny Hagenbuch skied great all weekend, as did Sydney Palmer-Leger. Anja Grover came back from a tough weekend in SoHo and skied really strong races, securing a spot on the JN team. “It’s always nice to see kids find their form in this last push before JNs,” said Kapala. Hayden Halvorsen has been rebuilding his fitness after a tough start to season, and he won the first day’s classic race, which was great for him.

This was the third and final Intermountain JNQ. Twenty-one kids from SVSEF have qualified for Junior Nationals; this is the most we’ve ever had. Of 57 total Intermountain spots, SVSEF comprises over a third of those.

The team is now four weeks out from JNs, and is focused on training and keeping the stoke up. Younger SVSEF athletes who have been making progress in their skiing but who were not selected will be headed to BC championships from February 26-March 4 at Salmon Arm.

Sydney Palmer-Leger, who prequalified for JNs, will instead go to Europe to compete in OPA Cup finals. Having already competed in four JNs, OPA Cup finals are a good opportunity to get some more international racing under her belt.

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Sydney Palmer-Leger in first and Ella Wolter in second, women's U18/U20 10km skate
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U16 girls: Logan Smith (prequalified), Sammy Smith (first JNs), Luci Ludwig, Anja Grover (first JNs)

U18 girls: Tia Vontver (first JNs), Jenna Nurge (first JNs), Ella Wolter, Anja Jensen, Sophia Mazzoni (prequalified), Sydney Palmer-Leger (prequalified), Sarah Morgan

 U20 girls: Lily Brunelle (top non-prequalified skier), Heidi Booher

 U16 boys: Bjorn Halvorsen

 U18 boys: Sebi Radl-Jones (first JNs), Hayden Halvorsen, Johnny Hagenbuch (prequalified), Ted Yewer

 U20 boys: Scott Schulz (prequalified), Adam Witkowski (first overall ranked U18/20 skier), Eli Eppolito

 Olivia Cuneo and Sascha are two U18 female alternates.
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Kevin Bolger, World Cup, Lahti

Kevin Bolger competed in Lahti on the World Cup circuit. In the skate sprint on Saturday, he finished 41st in qualifiers, which took him out of the running for heats. In the classic team relay on Sunday, he was partnered with Logan Hanneman in the 6x1.6km sprint. The duo finished sixth in the second semi, and 12th overall.
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Addie Rafford with the women's 15-18 win
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Regional Event, Grand Targhee

SVSEF Big Mountain athletes competed at a regional event at Targhee, February 9-10. This event served as a qualifier for Nationals. Athletes took one run on Saturday and one on Sunday for a final combined score. Frances Cherp won her 12-14 year old age group after day one, with a score of 29.7667. She finished second overall after her run on Sunday. Ry Mann was 20th for 12-14 boys. Addie Rafford had a great weekend, winning the 15-18 female age group. She put together two solid, winning runs. Cailin Chandler was third after the first day, and 11th after Sunday. Molly Kucher and Tanner Lee both moved up from their first runs, finishing fifth and seventh, respectively, for 15-18 females. Elle Mann was 13th for 15-18s. For 15-18 males, Max Moss skied to second overall, Thor Jaramillo fourth, Bruce O’Donnell seventh, Jake Lunn ninth and Toby Rafford 11th. Toby had a solid effort on Saturday, with a third-placing run on the day.
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Travel, RevTour and Aspen Open, Colorado

by Tyler Conway
Five SVSEF freeski athletes are currently in Colorado for the Toyota U.S. Revolution Tour and the Aspen Open. Athletes will compete on the X Games course and at Copper Mountain in the 22’ halfpipe; this is a good opportunity to compete at some great venues.
At the Rev Tour on Tuesday, Harper Mallet placed sixth in the Rev Tour halfpipe. Unfortunately, Ridge Dirksmeier could not put down a run in finals. Outstanding job goes out to the boys for making it to the finals with no halfpipe to train on at home or in the Intermountain Division.
At Aspen, Tuesday was the first day of practice, and the competition is fierce. The talent and the skill of the amateur athletes on the X Games course is impressive. Athletes have one more day of slopestyle, halfpipe and big air practice before competitions start on Thursday. Events run through Saturday. Ridge Dirksmeier, Harper Mallett, Will Griffith, Joey Markthaler and Charley Bingham will compete this week.
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Maya Lightner (5), Paige DeHart (1), first super G
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IMD, Jr. Intermountain Cup Super G Qualifier, Snowbasin


It was a tough weekend with lots of adversity from weather and the race organizer. As a whole we mostly had successes. It’s fun and affirming to have some of the top results but as a coach you want success for everyone on the SVSEF roster. I think each one of our athletes has a run or two they can hang their hat on last weekend. That’s the best we can hope for as we head into the last training block before the final qualifier.

SG 1 - Paige DeHart 1st, Maya Lightner 5th, Asia Angel 14th; Will Kogelmann 5th

SG 2 - Maya Lightner 2nd, Paige DeHart 5th, Lowie Watkins 9th; Cole Curci 2nd, Will Kogelmann 6th

SG 3 - Ruby Crist 5th, Lowie Watkins 10th, Izzy Gaggero 14th, Asia Angel 15th; Cole Curci 2nd



FIS Women, Nor Ams, Snow King

FIS women competed at Snow King Nor Ams, with fields of about 60, and top athletes from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Erin Smith’s best finish was 23rd in the giant slalom on February 8. Alli Rathfon was 41st in the February 7 giant slalom, and Merumo Ishimaru’s best result was 38th in the February 8 giant slalom.



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Bennett Snyder at Sun Valley Nor Ams, photo by Tim Carter
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FIS Men, Nor Ams, Sun Valley

SVSEF athletes had the opportunity to compete on their own hill at Nor Ams at Sun Valley last week. Bennett Snyder, Bridger Harrison, Blake Bathum, Jack Smith and Max Noddings, as well as alums Kipling Weisel, Tanner Farrow and Spencer Wright represented SVSEF in the giant slalom and slalom races out Warm Springs. Kipling finished 11th in the first slalom, Jack was the top SVSEF finisher in the next day’s slalom race in 32nd, followed closely by Bennett in 33rd. Tanner was 26th in the first giant slalom event, and 22nd the next day (also GS). Jack was 29th in the final competition.




FIS MEN, NPS, Snow King

FIS men are at a National Performance Series (NPS) event at Snow King; the races feature the top U19 athletes in the country. Representing SVSEF are Jack Smith, Blake Bathum, Finn Mallinen, Charlie Snyder, Bennett Snyder, Max Noddings, Bridger Harrison, Buey Grossman and Cassell Lefevre. In the first race on February 10, a GS comp, Jack Smith was the top SVSEF finisher, just off the podium in fourth. Max Noddings had a good race, finishing 11th. Jack again took forth in the 2/11 giant slalom. In the 2/12 slalom, Bennett Snyder was SVSEF’s top racer in 20th. Racing concludes today with another slalom race.

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Jim Baldwin Memorial, Squaw Valley

SVSEF athletes traveled to Squaw Valley for the Jim Baldwin Memorial. It was a one run moguls event. Tilly Babcock was fifth for F13s, Rainey Wilson was second for F19s, Nick Rubenstein 12th for M13s, and Erik Babcock had a solid run for M17s, finishing third.

Athlete of the Month, December: Cross Country Comp Team

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A sea of blue suits in Bozeman. Photo via Sydney Palmer-Leger.
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The focus when it comes to results is quite consistently on the individual athlete. It is a logical inclination, given the nature of the sports that are offered through SVSEF programming; from snowboardcross competitions to GS races to skate sprints, it’s the athlete’s time or technical proficiency alone that counts. While Athlete of the Month is a platform to highlight skiers and riders who have achieved results-based success, it behoves us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The aggregate of top results recently amassed by cross country athletes as a team warrants recognition of the program’s overarching strength; this is the reason why our Athlete of the Month is not an individual, but the entire Cross Country Comp Team.

As of mid-January, SVSEF athletes have competed at three major events, both regionally and nationally. At each of these events, they have featured prominently at the top of the result lists. At the first JNQ, SVSEF secured over half of the podiums for the weekend. Across the country at U.S. Nationals at Craftsbury, top finishes resulted in four SVSEF athletes earning spots at Junior and U23 World Championships. SVSEF again nabbed a large number of podiums at the super qualifier at Soldier Hollow on January 18-19, which featured large fields of competitors, not just from the Intermountain region, but from all over the west.

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In years past, SVSEF cross country skiers have certainly garnered significant results. This season, though, the range is especially impressive. “This year, in particular, we just have athletes in almost every age category who could likely podium or ski in the top ten at Junior Nationals,” explained comp team head coach Ashley Knox. “Other years, we might have a couple of really strong age groups, but not across the board. And some years, like this one so far, all the pieces fall into place better than others.”

Knox acknowledges that success for the cross country program is, at least in part, rooted in the influence of its younger teams. “I really think the success at the Comp Team level speaks to the growth and strength of our Devo and Prep programs,” said Knox. “The addition of the Prep Pro and Prep summer training has really upped the level and ability of skiers moving up to comp team. Instead of having the majority of our move-ups being new to summer training and roller skiing, they come to comp team already competent at roller skiing, and with an understanding of the importance of summer training.”
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Young SVSEF skiers at Striders and Prep training; these, along with Devo, are the precursors to Comp Team.
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Training at Lake Creek, photo by Travis Jones.
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Also playing a major factor is the volume of time spent together, and the mutual respect and work ethic that are widespread amongst this group. The Comp Team offers team training 44-46 weeks out of the 48 weeks of the calendar year, with athletes logging an average of 10 hours a week. Training in the spring is lighter, and builds through the summer and into the competition season. Kids can end up in close quarters, as they do on the Haig glacier and on competition trips, and they ultimately spend a significant number of hours together on the trails, on the road and in the gym. Knox explained the team’s approach to cultivating an environment in which support, respect and drive take form naturally:
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We have always made a point of building a program based on mutual respect and holding ourselves to a high standard for who we are as individuals and a team. The athletes all know they are in a hard sport and understand it takes countless hours of dedicated hard work, and I think most know it is much more enjoyable with teammates. Many of these skiers spend more time with each other, both inside and outside of training, than they do with their families, which makes ski team almost a second family and the hut a second home. And as much as everyone wants success for themselves, they want it for each other too. So whether it’s pushing each other during intervals, doing school work together on a race trip, or hugging at the finish line, they are usually there to support and push each other.”
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Comp, PG and Gold Team athletes at summer training at Community School's Dumke Family Sagewillow Campus.
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An organic mentorship system also lends itself to the cross country program’s success. “The PGs add depth and variety to the training group – they train and travel with the Comp Team often,” said Knox. “The Gold Team shows the younger athletes what is possible. Our most recent example is Kevin Bolger. He made the U.S. Ski Team and is currently skiing on the World Cup and posting some good results. This summer, Johnny Hagenbuch was jumping into some training sessions with Bolger. Pretty cool to have that connection.”

With 211 of SVSEF’s 695 enrolled athletes, it’s expected to find some snippets of success in the cross country program. What stands out, however, is how widespread the success has been so far this season, and how the team dynamic, from the ground up, has lent itself to both individual and group success.
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Gold Team skier Kevin Bolger is racing on the World Cup circuit this winter.
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Sophia Mazzoni and Sydney Palmer-Leger in Finland for Junior World Championships.
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Time trial at Prairie Creek, photo by Glen Allison.
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Bozeman JNQ:

The JNQ season opener at Bozeman was both a nod to the base SVSEF cross country skiers have steadily built over the past eight months, and an indication of good things to come. Prep, comp and PG athletes raced December 22-23 at Bozeman for the first of three Intermountain region JNQ qualifiers. SVSEF athletes were constantly on the podium; Johnny Hagenbuch won the men’s U18 freestyle mass start, and PG athletes Scott Schulz and Adam Witowski were first and second for U20s. Bjorn Halvorsen also secured a win in the U16 age class. For U18 women, Sydney Palmer-Leger took the win, followed by Sophia Mazzoni in second and Anja Jensen in fourth. Lily Brunelle was the third U20, followed by Heidi Booher in fourth and Sarah Morgan in fifth. U16 women swept the podium, with Logan Smith in first, Sammy Smith second and Anja Grover third. All told, SVSEF took 10 of 18 podium spots for U16-U20 classes; over half of the kids standing on the podium throughout the weekend were wearing the SVSEF suit.


The team’s momentum continued into the new year at Nationals. Top professional, collegiate and junior athletes from across the country converged for classic sprints and classic and skate distance races. Johnny Hagenbuch was the top U18 in the nation in the classic distance race. On the women’s side, Sydney Palmer-Leger was the top U18 female in the classic distance race, as was Logan Smith for U16s. Peter Holmes stepped onto the American podium in third for the men’s classic sprint. He was fourth overall and the first U23. Sophia qualified for women’s senior heats and was the second junior overall, and Logan Smith also qualified for senior heats as a U16. Sydney Palmer-Leger skied to second in junior heats, Sarah Morgan to fifth and Johnny Hagenbuch to fifth. In Sunday’s mass start, Johnny Hagenbuch again won his age group, this time in the men’s 10km freestyle race. PG skier Scott Schulz broke the top 10 in ninth. Sydney Palmer-Leger made the junior women’s podium in third for the 7.5km, and Logan Smith was 15th and the top U16 finisher.


National-level accolades:

Aside from overall titles, athletes competing at Nationals were looking to qualify for race opportunities abroad. A record number of SVSEF athletes did so; Peter Holmes, Johnny Hagenbuch, Sydney Palmer-Leger and Sophia Mazzoni all made the cut for U.S. World Junior Championships in Lahti, Finland, which are currently taking place. SVSEF has often had one or two (and twice, three) athletes qualify for World Juniors, but four is unprecedented. In addition to the four who qualified for Junior Worlds, Comp Team athlete Logan Smith had a standout series. At just 14 years old, Logan pre-qualified for Junior Nationals, and also qualified for the U18 Nordic Nations Cup in Scandinavia. She was also the second alternate for Junior Worlds, based on her results at Nationals.


These four athletes aren’t the only SVSEF skiers representing the organization in Europe. Gold Team skier Kevin Bolger has been competing on the World Cup circuit as a member of the U.S. National Team; he was named last spring following success domestically as well as in his first World Cup competition (he placed 11th overall in a freestyle sprint in Lahti last season). He has recorded some solid results for his first season racing full-time in Europe; Kevin qualified 13th in Toblach in the skate sprint, and finished 21st overall.

Week in Review: January 23

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Sarah Morgan, Heidi Booher, Lily Brunelle and coach Mary Rose
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Super JNQ, Soldier Hollow, Utah

SVSEF cross country skiers competed at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah, January 18-19, as part of a super qualifier. All five divisions from the west (Rocky Mountain, Pacific Northwest, High Plains, Far West, Intermountain) were represented, and around 750 racers attended; aside from U.S. Nationals, which took place in early January, and Junior Nationals, which happen in March, these are the biggest races in which our comp team athletes compete. Because there is no restriction on entry and field sizes are a bit bigger than those at JNs, this is a good tune-up for these skiers.
It was a successful weekend for SVSEF as a whole, with athletes walking away feeling good about their efforts, kids breaking the top 10, and SVSEF on top of five out of eight podiums for the weekend. “The challenge now is to keep things fresh and help kids who are in top form continue to maintain their fitness and set goals for competitions coming their way,” said coach and cross country program director Rick Kapala. “We are also looking to help kids who are still growing in their ski capacity to see what’s happening around them, and recognize ways to make progress; it comes down to a good attitude and trying hard.”
Circumstances involving weather and course layout made the race weekend especially crazy. Conditions were really variable, with pouring rain on Thursday during course inspection. The hosts put together a new sprint course, with three major hills instead of two. With the stretch into the stadium skiing differently, fitness now really mattered, as did staying smart about how one used their energy; kids who had success did a really good job of applying energy when it mattered, and using it to their tactical advantage.
Friday was a freestyle sprint, and a number of SVSEF athletes won their qualifying race. Lily Brunelle, Scott Schulz and Logan Smith all did so, and also went on to win the overall race, which is pretty unique. The biggest breakthrough came from Lily. Logan and Scott have had good results in skate sprints for awhile (Scott has been on the podium at JNs in the skate sprint, and last year Logan won at JNs for her age group); Lily has come into form at exactly the best time. Winning her prelim for the first time and going out and winning overall, in a race with the entire West in attendance, made for a big day for Lily. Sarah Morgan, who formerly skied at Soldier Hollow, had a really nice charge at the end of the same final, which was good to see given the long road back from leg issues that she’s dealt with. Sammy Smith continued to dominate in the U16 category, finishing in third behind Nina Schamberger (second) and her sister Logan (first). “One of the things that Sammy and Logan bring is a really calm mind when it comes to competition. They are able to focus on the task at hand and go with their strategy, whatever that may be in that race,” noted Kapala. Luci Ludwig had a good day, making it to B finals and posting a fourth place finish for Intermountain and tenth overall. Adam Witowski also dominated with Scott all day (they finished 1-2, with Scott in first and Adam second); both looked very strong. Bjorn Halvorsen has been fighting a virus but had a good qualifier and made it onto the podium in third. “He wasn’t on the radar last year, but he’s grown so much physically, and the training has had some positive effects,” said Kapala. In the younger age groups, Berkeley Canfield threw down and won the U14 girls race.
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Logan Smith, Sammy Smith and coach Travis Jones
[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built="1" _builder_version="3.3.1" custom_padding="54px|0px|0|0px|false|false"][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0|0px|false|false" _builder_version="3.3.1"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.3.1" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.3.1"]Athletes competed in a classic mass start on Saturday, on a course that was certainly challenging. Observers commented that they’ve never seen a race in which so many people fell.  There were broken poles everywhere, lots of crashes, and a huge pileup at the start of the boys’ race. At the end of the day, those at the top of the field weren’t affected; also at the end of the day, lots of kids said it was the craziest course they’ve ever been on. There was a lot of accordioning, with steep downhills followed by steep uphills, which was problematic. The steepest part of the course was a really hard, long herringbone hill, and by the time kids got to the high point, they were a bit wobbly. With 120 competitors per age class, it was pretty tough to navigate.
Logan and Sammy Smith both had another good day, dominating the U16 women’s class and finishing first and second. Their brother, Tucker Smith, did as well, skiing to third for U12s. Teammate Sven Halvorsen was sixth in the same age class. Sven’s brother, Bjorn Halvorsen, ended up seventh in the U16 boys race; he’s on his way and has had a good season so far, he just needs to get healthy again. Berkeley Canfield again led the way for U14s, winning the girls’ race. Teammates Anika Vandenburgh and Eloise Hebert had solid efforts, finishing 16th and 17th for U14s.
The U18 girls race was a good one for SVSEF, with lots of blue suits out in front. For the first two laps (the race was 3x3.3km), Lily Brunelle, Anja Jensen and Sarah Morgan skied clear of the rest of the field. Lily began to apply pressure at the start of the third lap, and she slowly gapped Anja, who slowly gapped Sarah. Lily charged to another victory on the weekend. “When she was younger, she was seen as a talented sprinter; sprinters can access anaerobic levels that distance skiers can’t, but this usually makes the second day of distance racing harder for sprinters. For Lily to go out and dominate in a classic distance race on a course that hard was really impressive,” said Kapala. Anja Jensen skied to a solid second right behind Lily, followed by Sarah Morgan in fourth. Ella Wolter, who took a fall early in the race, made a seamless recovery – Kapala mentioned “grit and toughness” when describing her race – she ended up seventh for U18/20s. Jenna Nurge and Sascha Leidecker both had great races on Saturday; Jenna was 14th overall and Sascha 21st.
Waxing for the U18/20 boys’ race was a bit worrisome due to the temperature, but the course held up pretty nicely because the courses were on man-made snow. Cameron Wolfe, a good skier from Vail, took the win, but SVSEF athletes Scott Schulz and Adam Witkowski hung with him for a bit and ended up second and third. Ted Yewer had his best race of the season, finishing fifth. Eli Eppolito had a good race, as well, coming in seventh. Hayden Halvorsen got caught in a pile up while in a pretty good place early on; with the fall, he fell back into the 20s, but skied a good race and landed back in the teens. Kapala noted that this was a “good, solid effort to reestablish his quest to make the JN team.”
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U23 and Junior World Championships

Four SVSEF athletes are competing in Lahti, Finland, for U23 and Junior Worlds. Sydney Palmer-Leger raced on Sunday, January 20, making rounds in the classic sprint in 29th, and finishing 25th overall. Sophia was in the middle of the field. Peter Holmes raced on Monday in the men’s U23 classic sprint; he skied to 20th in qualifiers and 27th overall. In the 1/22 5km freestyle race, Sydney finished 20th. Johnny Hagenbuch also raced Tuesday, in the men’s 10km freestyle race; he was 34th overall in a field of 102 competitors. Peter raced again on 1/23 in the U23 15km freestyle; he finished 48th.
Racing continues today, with a 15/30km classic mass start for Junior Worlds.
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World Cup

Gold Team skier Kevin Bolger completed another weekend of racing with the U.S. Team. In Otepaa, Estonia, Kevin finished 41st in the classic sprint on Saturday, January 19, and 56th in the 15km classic. On January 22, U.S. Ski and Snowboard named 18 athletes to the U.S. Team that will compete in the 2019 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld, Austria, to be held February 21-March 3. Kevin was one of the athletes named to the team.
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Baldy Banked Slalom, Bald Mtn., Idaho

Andy Gilbert
The seventh annual Baldy Banked Slalom took place this weekend with 133 racers. The BBS is the biggest gathering of snowboarders on Baldy every year, is a ton of fun and a great celebration of snowboard culture.
SVSEF’s Sebastian Lerner won the Next Generation age bracket (U12), and Kiki Pate won for girls. In the 13-18 age group, Jack Verhaeghe claimed victory, as did Madison Hothem. SVSEF coach Rick Millett finished fourth overall for men.
A big thanks to Debbie Bacca, Jon Verhaeghe, Jake and Liz Hothem, Alexia Lerner and everyone who volunteered. Also a big shout out to Riley Berman and Josie Bronwell from the SVSEF alpine program, who helped with all the timing on the day!

Laax Open, Switzerland

Alum Chase Josey was in Laax, Switzerland, last week, for the Laax Open. Josey qualified fourth in his heat on Wednesday, giving him the go-ahead for semifinals on Saturday morning. He scored a 93.50 on his second semifinal run, putting him in second behind Australian Scotty James going into the finals later that day. With two runs in the finals, Josey finished 10th overall.
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Photo: Tiffany Curci
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Nathan Gowe, overall Wes Barron winner
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Wes Barron Memorial, Jackson, Wyoming

Alpine U16 athletes competed in Jackson at the Wes Baron Memorial, which featured three super G races. These were IMD open races and did not count as qualifiers. Jessica Blackburn, Saba Grossman and Anhwei Kirk opened up the weekend with top-10 finishes in the super G on 1/19 (Jessica 5th, Saba 7th, Anhwei 8th). Hannah Ferris and Logan Lindstrom were close behind in 10th and 11th. Nathan Gowe continued a successful competitive season, winning the men’s super G on 1/19. Teammate Colin Hanna finished ninth in the same race. Jessica, Saba and Anhwei stayed consistent into the next day, with Jessica coming in second in the 1/20 super G, Anhwei fourth and Saba seventh. Nathan did, as well – we was the second male finisher on Saturday. In the final super G on Monday, Anhwei stepped up into second, and Saba was fifth. Maya Lightner had a good race, finishing 12th. In the men’s final super G, Nathan rounded out a podium streak in third.
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Anhwei Kirk in second
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U.S. Development Camp, Europe

Jack Smith has been training and competing with the U.S. Development Team after garnering significant results in super G events earlier this season. He has truly stepped up to the occasion, skiing onto the podium in multiple instances on world class courses throughout the trip. At Selva Val Gardena in Italy, Jack did not finish his first run in the first giant slalom on 1/12, but came in fourth overall the next day in the giant slalom, and was the first 2001 in the national junior race. In Cavalese, Italy, he was second overall in the giant slalom on 1/19, and DNF in the slalom on 1/20 (both were national junior races). Moving onto Cortina d’Ampezzo, Jack finished 17th in the FIS super G race on 1/21 (3rd 2001), DNF the super G on 1/22, and was 13th overall in the FIS slalom on 1/23 (2nd 2001).

FIS University Series, Bridger Bowl, Montana

A few athletes competed at the FIS University events at Bridger Bowl in Montana. University series are high level events, and are selected based on FIS points (a unique approach, as all other series in the U.S. are selected off of USSA points). Bridger Harrison, Bennett Snyder, Cassell Lefevre, Max Noddings, Erin Smith and Merumo Ishimaru competed. Bridger was 39th in the 1/16 giant slalom, and Max was 41st (Bennett and Cassell DNF). For women, Erin Smith was 22nd (Merumo DNF). In the 1/17 giant slalom, Erin was again 22nd, and Merumo 38th. Bridger finished 34th for men and Bennett 49th (Cassell and Max DNF). The women’s slalom on 1/18 was cancelled. Bennett was 39th in the men’s slalom. The men competed again on 1/19 in slalom to replace another race; Bridger and Bennett were 43rd and 44th.
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Athletes inspect the course at Red Mountain. Photo by Conor Davis.
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Athletes competed at both Red Mountain and Snowbird as part of the IFSA junior event series. Five athletes traveled to Snowbird and seven to Red Mountain. At Red Mountain, the athletes skied really well, but it was a tough venue and only three made it into finals after qualification runs (athletes move on if they're in the top 50% +1). Ethan Marx and Max Moss were tied for sixth place going into finals. In finals, Max broke his ski, and Ethan got lost in the fog of the course. Neither athlete skied the lines they'd inspected; despite this, Ethan still ended up in ninth place, and Max in 23rd. Will Price was also affected by the fog in his final run; he finished in 19th out of 49 athletes. The other athletes skied well but did not make finals. "I was really impressed by Mikey Ninnini, who is our team cowboy from Kimberly," said head coach Conor Davis. "He really stepped up and skied a challenging venue for his first competition, especially given he is rather new to skiing." Sunny Pratt was the only girl on the trip; she fell and had a technical disqualification due to gear loss.

The competition at Snowbird was lottery-based and was hard to get into. Paris Pratt had prequalified for the event based on previous results. Five SVSEF athletes in total competed. The weather played a factor, with snowfall accumulating at ~5" per hour. Paris Pratt finished ninth and Molly Kucher 12th for girls; both showed off the skills they've learned over the years with SVSEF and Sun Valley Co (both were on the Big Mountain team last year). Toby Rafford demonstrated solid mogul abilities, harkening back to his days on the SVSEF freestyle team. He had a great run and finished 21st overall in the 15-18 age category; a good result, especially given he is only 15. Owen Miller, skiing in one of his first real comps, was really assertive; he knew what he was doing and showed some great athletic ability, finishing 50th. Maille Dorland just missed finals, even though she was in ninth place with a hard cut to the field. She had a huge smile on her face at the end of her run.


Big Mountain athletes depart today for more competition, with 19 headed to Snowbird and three to Jackson.
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 Snowbowl, Montana


SVSEF freestyle athletes competed at Snowbowl in Montana, January 19-20. The event featured one two-run single comp on Saturday, followed by a one-run single event on Sunday, as well as duals. Tillie Babcock had an outstanding weekend, taking the win for girls as a F13 in all three events. Ellen Shandro was seventh and Presly Watson 10th (in her first-ever competition) on Saturday. Briggs Farelli won his age group (M13) on Saturday, while teammate Nick Rubenstein won the same age group in the singles event on Sunday. Will Hausmann was second for M11 in both singles events. Erik Babcock broke the top 10 for boys overall on Saturday, finishing sixth (third in his age group). In duals, Tillie again took first for girls, while teammate Ellen Shandro finished seventh overall.


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Week in Review: December 18

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FIS Open Tech series at Snow King
FIS athletes traveled to Jackson Hole for an Open Tech series at Snow King; over the course of four days, skiers competed in two slalom and two giant slalom races. SVSEF athletes walked away from the event with multiple podiums and winning runs; a good sign of things to come this season. Notably, Jack Smith claimed victory in both of the men’s giant slalom races (December 17 and 18). Lily Fitzgerald also skied onto the podium in the women’s giant slalom on December 17, finishing third behind Isabel Grondin and Zazie Huml. Bridger Harrison and Bennett Synder each had winning runs, in the giant slalom and slalom, respectively. Sage Curtis, a first year who made the flip this year from the USSA team, had a significant result in the first giant slalom, finishing 23rd overall. Alison Rathfon broke the top 10 twice (seventh in December 15th slalom, eighth in December 17th giant slalom). In an extraordinary instance of familial coordination, brothers Bennett and Will (alum) Snyder tied for seventh in the men’s opening slalom on December 15. Will also scored a top result in the slalom on December 16, taking bronze. "It was a good weekend; our skiers approached their races with good attitudes, despite tough conditions," said SVSEF Alpine Program Director Will Brandenburg. "There was better skiing out there than results, and we had really good results – it shaped up to be a nice series."
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Alum Chase Josey found the podium a second weekend in a row, this time in the Dew Tour modified superpipe at Breckenridge on Saturday, December 15. In the new Dew Tour event, which included slopestyle jumps at the beginning and end of the run, Josey finished second in the event, behind Australian Scotty James (who also won last week’s Grand Prix event at Copper). The alum scored 88.33 on his second run, securing his silver medal at the event.
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SVSEF, along with Galena Lodge and BCRD, hosted its annual Winterstart race at Galena to kick off the local competition season. The event drew 80 participants, most of whom were SVSEF athletes. Leading the charge in the four-lap (roughly 8km) category was Gold Team skier Peter Holmes, who finished in 19:07. Behind him were Adam Witkowski (20:05) and Scott Schultz (20:31) to round out the podium. The three-lap category was dominated by SVSEF skiers, as well; Bjorn Halvorsen won with a time of 16:03, followed by Anja Grover in 17:49 and Sammy Smith one second behind Anja in third. In the group that completed two laps, Prep Team skier Holden Archie topped the field, finishing in 12:33. Berkeley Canfield was second in 12:43, and Teddy Hobbs third in 14:10. Sven Halvorsen, McCallen Campbell and Zach Quesnel went one-two-three on the single lap, and Levi Reuner, Duncan Freyberger and Anne O’Sullivan did the same in the mini loop category. SVSEF athletes head to Bozeman this weekend for their first JNQ of the season. Gold, PG and Comp athletes are also gearing up for U.S. Nationals, which will be held at Craftsbury, Vermont, in early January. Kevin Bolger, who narrowly missed qualifying for heats in the final sprint race of Period 1 on the World Cup circuit in Davos, Switzerland, has a break from racing before Period 2 picks up in Toblach, Italy.
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Week in Review: December 11

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Photo: Woodward Copper
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SVSEF alum Chase Josey, a member of the U.S. National Snowboard Team, hit the ground running for the 2018-2019 competition season at Copper for the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix. In qualifying heats on Thursday, Josey posted a top result in second behind Ikko Anai of Japan. In the finals on Saturday, Josey earned his best result in his third and final run, putting him in third overall with a score of 90.50. Josey finished behind Australian Scotty James and American Toby Miller.
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SVSEF Gold and PG athletes competed on the second stop of the SuperTour, a North American FIS-sanctioned race series. This past weekend, the group raced at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre within SilverStar Provincial Park in British Columbia. Saturday featured a freestyle sprint, and Sunday was a 10/15km classic race.
Peter Holmes led SVSEF in both the sprint and the men's 15km classic race, qualifying for the B final and finishing seventh overall on Saturday, and 10th overall on Sunday in the distance race. For women, Gold Team skier Maddie Morgan was 14th overall in the sprint, while teammate Katie Feldman was 22nd in a field of 46. PG skier Heidi Booher charged to 11th in the women's junior sprint. 
In the distance race on Sunday, Adam Luban followed Holmes' 10th place finish in 22nd out of 104 competitors, while Cate Brahms had a solid effort, finishing 15th overall in the women's 10km field of 88.
Athletes on the SuperTour have a brief reprieve before competing at Craftsbury, Vermont, for Nationals at the start of January.
Gold Team skier Kevin Bolger continued his efforts on the World Cup circuit in Beitostolen, Norway. Bolger was selected to compete in the men's 4x7.5km mixed relay on Sunday, December 9; he skied the second classic leg for the United States. The men's relay team, which consisted of Bolger, Erik Bjornsen, Scott Patterson and Simi Hamilton, finished 12th overall. The World Cup racing continues this weekend in Davos, Switzerland.

Recap: 2018 Baldy Hill Climb

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Despite the smoke that had settled into the valley on the morning of September 29, 180 participants turned up for this year's Baldy Hill Climb. For the trek to the top of the 3,140-foot mountain, competitors could pick their poison – biking, hiking, racing (on foot), or, if they were feeling really gung-ho, the Cheeso Double. Named in memory of Craig "Cheeso" Kjesbo, a SVSEF alpine coach, the Cheeso Double involves biking to the top of Baldy first thing, taking the lift down, and joining the racing class for another jaunt back up to the top. Indeed, it is not for the faint of heart, body or mind.

This year's race class champion for men was Miles Fink-Debray, a local alumni of the SVSEF alpine program who has shown a knack for this particular challenge; Miles has now won the Baldy Hill Climb nine times. Miles finished the climb in 37 minutes and 37 seconds. Fifteen seconds behind him with a time of 37:52 was Adam Luban, a fresh face on the cross country Gold Team. Peter Holmes, another Gold Team skier, finished in third in 40:30. For women, Alexa Turzian claimed victory with a time of 47 minutes and 33 seconds. The SVSEF cross country alum topped the field by over a minute, even having just completed the biking portion of the Cheeso Double. SVSEF alums and current SVSEF coaches Emily Williams and Sloan Storey rounded out the top three, with times of 48:46 and 49:18, respectively.

In his first go at the Cheeso Double, Eric Chizum won in the men's category with a combined total time of 1:49:05. Thomas Liby was second, and Joel Brazil third. Brooke Hovey, a SVSEF coach and parent, powered to first for women in 2:06:19, followed by Alexa Turzian in 2:26:55 and Alison Burpee in 2:45:56. Brooke Hovey and Eric Chizum both took the win for the bike portion of the competition, as well. Breaking into the top three for overall bike results were Brandon Lynch in the men's race, pushing Thomas Liby to third, and Shelly Wisenhant, pushing Alexa Turzian to third for women.

Thank you to Sturtevants and Washington Federal, who sponsored the event, and to all of the volunteers who helped make the day go smoothly.

To view more photos, click HERE.





Cheeso Double

Overall Hike

Men's Hike

Women's Hike

Overall Men's Race

Overall Women's Race

Breakdown by Age Class



Women's race class podium: Emily Williams (2), Alexa Turzian (1), Sloan Storey (3)


Men's race podium: Alex Luban (2), Miles Fink-Debray (1), Peter Holmes (3)



SVSEF Executive Director Scott McGrew crosses the finish line


Alexa Turzian in the final stretch


SVSEF Alpine Program Director Will Brandenburg and daughter Georgia put in some volunteer hours

Alumni Spotlight: Adele Savaria

Adele Savaria, head coach of the Alpine North Series team, has seen the organization from all sides – she's been a coach, mother of athletes, and an athlete herself. Here, Adele discusses what she and her family have taken away from SVSEF.

Adele, second from left, with her family

Yours is kind of an ultimate SVSEF family – you are all alumni, and you have all coached for the program. How would you describe the role SVSEF has played in your lives as a family?
All four of us are alumni and are coaching or have coached. I moved here when I was 16 to be on the ski team. We are all passionate about the sport and enjoy being out in the mountains. SVSEF has given us a way to stay connected as a family and do something we all love to do. I know, speaking for myself, I really enjoy sharing what I know and learned about alpine skiing and racing over the past 45 years with all of the kids. I love seeing them have “the light bulb go on” when they finally are able to do what we are trying to teach them. That is the best feeling as a coach.
What is your most memorable experience with SVSEF as a parent?
There are so many memorable experiences but one that sticks out as a parent is probably when both KJ and Austin had the opportunity to go race in Europe during their senior years for two weeks and have their dad be able to go with them as one of their coaches. Those traveling experiences are never forgotten.
As a coach?
I can’t say I have one memorable experience as a coach.  It is always nice to hear from the kids that we have coached over the years how much of an impact we have made on their lives and who they become as adults.
Has being a mother of SVSEF athletes affected your approach to coaching? If yes, how so?
I don’t think being a mother has affected my approach to coaching since I started coaching before I had children. My beliefs and the way I coach have been the same since I started 25 years ago. I do believe having children does help many other coaches sometimes understand why children act they way they do at different stages in their lives.
I know when I was KJ and Austin’s coach when they were on the C-Home team, I did not coach them much at all. I mostly sent them with the other coaches because it’s hard for a child to be coached by their mother. It benefited both them and me. Later on in their careers, they would, on occasion, ask me what I thought about their runs.
What would you say KJ and Austin took away from the program? Do you find the answer is the same for what you hope the kids you coach take away from it?
I think ski team is so much more than just the racing and results. I can proudly say KJ and Austin learned how to take care of themselves on the road traveling to races. The learned things like cooking, getting to places on time, rooming and getting along with other teammates, budgeting their money, taking care of their equipment, having respect for coaches and other adults, learning how to balance ski team and school, etc. They also learned how to move on from race days that didn’t go so well and know there is always another day that will be better. I am always telling the parents and kids I coach that they will learn all of these skills and that the ski racing is a “bonus” to all of it.
Why do you think it is important for athletes to stay involved/connected to the organization as an alum when they graduate?
The ski team alums almost always come back and tell us their days with ski team were some of the best days of their lives, and ski team had much to do with how they became who they are. It is nice to see so many of them staying connected and coming back to give back to SVSEF.

SVSEF Alumni Receive US Ski & Snowboard Coaching Awards

Ben, left, and Graham, right

Congratulations to SVSEF alumni Ben Verge and Graham Watanabe, who both received accolades at the US Ski & Snowboard Congress this year. At the annual event, US Ski & Snowboard recognizes outstanding athletes, coaches and clubs from throughout the US for their work and success in snowsports. Ben was awarded the Freeski International Coach of the Year, and Graham the Adaptive International Coach of the Year. A job well done to both – what a testament to the dedication and passion they have given to their athletes and their respective sports. You can find the entire list of award recipients here.