PC youth alpine skiers medal in Sun Valley
This past weekend 35 Park City Ski and Snowboard Alpine racers traveled to Sun Valley to compete in the Laura Flood Memorial U16 Tech Qualifier. Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation hosted the three-day event March 1-3, with one day of slalom racing and two days of giant slalom racing.
With Sun Valley receiving upwards of five feet of snow and some warmer temperatures in the week leading up the races, the athletes did not know what conditions to expect. However, with the tremendous efforts by the Sun Valley staff and help from mother-nature, who delivered very cold temperatures the night before the race, the surface was ready for race day.
On Friday morning, the sky was cloudless, which made for good conditions for the roughly 150 racers competing in slalom. The U-16 girls started the day as scheduled at 9 a.m. with some excellent skiing. Sophia Tozzi of Jackson Hole won the two-run test, putting together two impressively fast runs to capture first. Also successfully navigating the soft second run conditions was PCSS’s Lindsey Aten who earned a fifth-place podium spot. Also having the touch were PCSS athletes Mia Hunt (sixth), Annika Drivdahl (ninth) and Kennedy Heavrin (10th).
The U-16 boys’ first run started at 10 a.m. as scheduled. Setting the pace for the day was Sun Valley’s Ryder Sarchett, with a winning combined time of 1 minute, 21.86 seconds. Also charging hard and managing the sun softened snow conditions of the second run was PCSS athlete Benny Brown, who captured second. PCSS racers Jake Rogers and Dylan Thompson also skied into points, taking seventh and ninth.
Saturday’s weather was similar to the day before – cold and sunny. The skiers were on the shaded course early, inspecting some of the steepest pitches they had seen all season. For the girls, the conditions proved challenging with six of the first 15 girls not finishing the first run. Over the two-run test, there were a total of 25 female racers who did not finish a run. Showing her prowess, Paige Doyle of Jackson Hole won the giant slalom race with a combined time of 1:43.64. PCSS showed their depth and consistency, with a fourth-place podium spot by Mia Hunt. Avoiding the traps, the following PCSS female racers earned top-15 spots: Lindsey Aten (seventh), Maddie Kaiserman (11th), Ava Kelly (13th) and Annika Drivdahl (15th).
The PCSS boys continued the momentum with six skiers in the top 10, and an additional eight in the top 20 after the first run. However, it was Ryder Sarchett of Sun Valley who was crowned Mr.GS, winning for the second day in a row. But PCSS showed their dominance with seven racers in the top 15. Gunnar Travis, Jake Rogers and Dylan Thompson all earned medals, earning second, third and fifth respectively. Benny Brown (seventh), Tay Polster (ninth), T.J. Weaver (11th) and Stefan Brennwald (12th) also arced impressive turns down the course.
With bluebird skies, the women’s final giant slalom race commenced early Sunday morning. Looking exclusively at U-16 female racers, Dasha Romanov of Sun Valley was fantastically fast, capturing first place with a combined time of 1:50.75. Just off the podium was PCSS’s Mia Hunt in sixth. Kennedy Heavrin (eighth), Lindsey Aten (10th), Maddie Kaiserman (12th) and Annika Drivdahl (15th) also demonstrated impressive, controlled skiing.
Excluding the FIS male athletes at the Sunday race, it was Ryder Sarchett of Sun Valley setting the pace again. With a combined time of 1:51.97, he beat the competition by over 2 seconds. Head coach Joe Dunn proved the depth of his team with six athletes in the top 15. The PCSS boys earned three podium spots: Justin Bigatel (second), Gunnar Travis (third) and Dylan Thompson (fifth). Not far behind were Tay Polster (sixth), Benny Brown (eighth) and Stefan Brennwald (15th).
Over the three-day event, PCSS racers earned nine podium spots. As this was the last qualifier of the season, racers will now head to either Western Region U-16 Championships in Sun Valley on March 14-17, Tri-Divisional Champs in Jackson Hole on March 21-24 or IMD Finals at Snowbird on March 23-24. For more information on the PCSS alpine program go to parkcityss.org.
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The International Ski Federation has approved a tentative World Cup schedule for women’s Nordic combined for the first time ever. The first World Cup season is scheduled for 2020. Men have been competing at the Olympic level since 1924.