Top five sports stories of 2016
Another year gone, more sports stories made
With 2017 just around the corner, it’s around this time people tend to look back on the year and reflect. The annual ritual exists here at The Park Record, as 2016 was filled with exciting sports stories in the area.
The eventful year saw another state championship for the PCHS boys’ golf team, Chloe Kim throwing down a perfect 100 in February’s Grand Prix and a 1, 2 finish for the Americans at the Luge World Cup at Utah Olympic Park, to name a few.
Below are five of the top sports stories in 2016.
1. Chloe Kim makes history at Park City Grand Prix
For the second time in halfpipe snowboarding history, two-time X Games gold medalist Chloe Kim recorded a perfect score of 100 at the Park City Grand Prix in February. The 15-year-old snowboarder (now 16) had the win seemingly well in hand after throwing down a 96.50 on her first run of the day, but still decided to go for that perfect mark.
“I wasn’t really planning on doing it here originally, but I came up here today and my 10s were landing super clean and I was getting so much speed into the next hit that I saw it as an opportunity,” Kim said. “I’m so stoked I went for it.”
The only other snowboarder — male or female — to record a perfect score was Shaun White in the 2012 X Games. Fellow American and 15-year-old Maddie Mastro (also now 16) finished in second place behind Kim.
2. Americans Hamlin, Sweeney claim top two spots at Luge World Cup
Of all luge athletes on the FIL Viessmann World Cup circuit at Utah Olympic Park in December, it was the American duo of Erin Hamlin and Emily Sweeney who most likely walked away the happiest. With Sweeney holding the leader’s box position with just Hamlin to go, the latter narrowly edged out her teammate to secure the top two spots for the U.S.
“I’m pretty happy,” Hamlin said. “That was exciting to see that pay off for [Sweeney] and get her on a good streak going into the second half. It was just an overall good day.”
The duo didn’t stop there, either. Just a few hours later, Hamlin and Sweeney returned to the sliding track at UOP to compete in the BMW Sprint World Cup. They took home gold and silver in that competition, too.
3. Local skier Torin Yater-Wallace is flying high again
Life is all that matters for most people suffering from serious illnesses. But after finding out he has a rare disease called Streptococcus anginosus, Torin Yater-Wallace couldn’t stop thinking about when he could ski again.
“[Skiing] was pretty out of the question for a while,” he said. “I was definitely itching to ski more than anything, though.”
He recovered after months of IVs and tubes stuck into his body and eventually began to train again at the U.S. Ski Team’s Center of Excellence in Park City. It wasn’t long before the then 20-year-old was back on the snow competing in X Games competitions and even earned a gold medal on Feb. 28 in Oslo.
Yater-Wallace has recovered from the illness, but he said the experience will remain a part of him.
“As much as it was an extremely horrifying and life-threatening sickness, there are a couple good things that came out of it,” he said. “I’d say the best thing to come out of it was appreciation for general health and the love of the ones around you.”
4. PCHS boys’ golf team claims ninth-straight state title
Death, taxes and the Park City High School boys’ golf team winning a state championship are unavoidable facts. For the ninth year in a row, the Miners, led by Head Coach George Murphy, put together another dominant performance en route to a 3A state title. This bunch put together one of the most consistent seasons ever, even for Park City standards.
“It feels good,” Murphy said of his team’s 569 stroke total for the tournament. “I think we even beat last year’s score by a couple of strokes. These guys, as far as consistency and depth with our team, they played well. … I’m proud of all of them.”
The Miners were led by Zane Schemmer, who almost didn’t even make the final six-man lineup for the tournament. But his hot streak towards the end of the season extended into the state tournament, as Schemmer finished as the second-best golfer in 3A. He just missed out on first place individually after a putt in a sudden-death playoff cupped out.
5. Former PCHS track athlete Leah Anderson shows heart on the track
PCHS track athlete Leah Anderson was gunning for school records as a senior during the 2015-16 school year. Like most athletes, hearts tend to race during moments like these, but for Anderson, who was born with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), her heart is already racing.
SVT is a condition that causes the heart to beat much faster than normal. Anderson discovered she had SVT when she was a young child, but, despite near-death experiences, she couldn’t stay off of the track.
“I always knew I was fast, but — going back to elementary school — they never let me run because of my heart,” Anderson said. “Finally, I was just like, ‘Screw it, I’m going to do it.’”
Anderson still managed to qualify for the finals of the 100-meter dash at the 2016 state championship meet, despite being bothered by injuries down the stretch of her senior year.
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The event was planned as an eight-day, 1,000-mile bike ride from Helsinki, Finland, to Paris, but Blair did the same thing she’s done with everything else in her life: more.