PCST U16 racers defy difficult conditions in Sun Valley | ParkRecord.com

PCST U16 racers defy difficult conditions in Sun Valley

Despite heavy snow, Park City racers perform well

Submitted by the Park City Ski Team

Park City Ski Team (PCST) U16 racers traveled to Sun Valley from Feb. 9-13 to contest the Laura Flood Memorial. The race was the second of the season's three qualifier meets and was comprised of two slaloms and one giant slalom (GS) events. The field included over 200 racers from eight teams based in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

From Park City, approximately 40 ski teamers set out by bus on a journey that quickly turned to adventure. The area surrounding Ketchum, Idaho, was besieged by a warm storm bringing heavy snow, rain and high winds. The Sawtooth Avalanche Center issued an "extreme" avalanche danger rating, and Sun Valley Resort shut down for two days.

The resort closure left racers without a venue and coaches with a busload of unoccupied teens. Knowing their racers would face unfamiliar and very icy conditions in the days ahead, coaches engaged the team in educational training and ski tuning tasks, sharpening edges into razor-sharp blades. Once the race got underway, those adaptations and preparations paid off with great results.

Sun Valley reopened on Saturday and racers were excited be back on the mountain. Rains and freezing temperatures had hardened the race course into a sheet of ice, and over one-third of the field disqualified or did not finish on the first day. Park City racers, however, responded by outskiing their competition in both finish rates and standings.

In the U16 women's division, Lily Fitzgerald of Sun Valley placed first, but Park City dominated as a team, posting six of the ten fastest times. Brynne Hitchcock (2nd), Ella Dingman (3rd), Sydney Weaver (4th) and Lauren Macuga (5th) earned Top-5 honors, while Tasia Tanner (8th), Hannah Hitchcock (10th), Caroline Haaijer (11th), and Heidi Hathorne (14th) ranked in the Top 15.

In the U16 men's division, Bennet Snyder of Sun Valley placed first. PCST's Max Miller placed second, with teammate Hizuki Kato in fourth. Other PCST athletes in the Top 15 included Michal Biskup (6th), Samuel Levine (8th), Luc Dalton (10th) and Alexander Fugate (15th).

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On Sunday, racers contested the second Slalom event. Among U16 women, Merumo Ishimaru of Sun Valley took first place. Park City racers Hannah Hitchcock (3rd), Sydney Weaver (5th), Lauren Macuga (9th) and Caroline Haaijer (11th) turned in Top-15 results.

Among U16 men, Bennet Snyder of Sun Valley repeated for the win, and PCST's Max Miller again earned second. Other PCST athletes in the Top 15 included Delaney Tyon (4th), Samuel Levine (6th), Luc Dalton (9th) and Michal Biskup (12th).

A Monday race day was added to make up for the resort closure. Racers contested a Giant Slalom event under cold blue skies on a course of hard-packed ice. In the U16 women's division, Allison Rathfon of Sun Valley took first, with Park City racers Brynne Hitchcock (2nd) and Ella Dingman (3rd) close behind. PCST athletes Hannah Hitchcock (6th), Sidney Weaver (11th) and Heidi Hathorne (13th) also placed in the Top 15.

In the U16 men's division, Wyatt Barth of Sun Valley placed first. Max Miller was Park City's fastest racer, placing third. Other PCST athletes in the Top 15 were Delaney Tyon (7th), Hizuki Kato (8th), Luc Dalton (9th), Cooper Iacobelli (11th), and Samuel Levine (15th).

At the end of this wild race weekend, coaches praised racers, parents, and other teams for their patience and cooperation. In order for the race to retain status as a qualifier meet, all teams had to rearrange plans and stay in Ketchum to continue the event. As such, this memorable race was a testament to flexibility and teamwork, not just among PSCT athletes, but among league teams as well.

For information on the Park City Ski Team, please visit parkcityskiteam.org.