Story by John LeCant
VAIL — River Radamus came out of the gate hot on Friday, and not just because he was running a fever.

The Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) racer drew the first bib for Friday’s giant slalom at the 2012 Rocky/Central J3 Junior Olympics at Golden Peak, and led the field for the entire competition.

Not bad for a kid who, just a few days earlier, was running a 104-degree fever.

“I saw him in the morning and he did not look good at all, he was definitely not 100 percent” said John Cole, an announcer for the event and the strength and conditioning Director for SSCV. “His win is certainly a testament to what a great athlete he is.”

After being the only athlete to go sub-46 seconds on the day with a smoking first run of 45.45, Radamus said he was feeling pretty good, but knew he’d have to keep the energy level high in order to clinch the win.

“I think the biggest mistake I could make right now is to take it easy,” he said before the second run. “If I charge it and put everything on the line, good things will happen.”

He was right.

Coming off the flat section of the course called “I-70” Radamus, a true Vail Valley local skiing in a Fuxi Racing speed suit, dug in a deep cut and was so loaded going into the turn that his momentum sent him bouncing off the camber of his skis, launching him several feet into the air.

“Typically that’s not supposed to happen,” said SSCV men’s program coach Melissa Jones after watching Radamus go airborne. “But it’s an indicator of how much speed he was carrying. The other guys aren’t carrying as much speed into the turns so they’re not going to bounce off and get as much air. He’s athletic and he’s really balanced, also he’s a really solid skier and trusts his skills out there so he’s able to execute very often.”

Radamus said getting that much air was not part of his plan.

“On the run before I had gotten too much direction and was a little too safe with it, I had to crank it back and almost missed the next gate, so I decided to pin it a little bit more that run,” Radamus said after the race. “But it ended up almost killing my goal … I thought I had lost a lot of time on that little mistake there so I charged it at the bottom to make up time. I’m so happy with my run.”

Radamus’ winning performance and combined time of 1 minute, 31.87 seconds was one of several great results on the day for SSCV. The local squad was seated 1-2-3 after the first run and ended up hanging on to the one and two spots, but a smoking second run from Aspen Ski Club’s Sky Kelsey put the repeat podium finisher into third, bumping SSCV’s Ryan Schmidt into fourth by less than a tenth of a second with his combined time of 1.34.54 to Kelsey’s 1.34.47. SSCV’s Logan Martin finished solidly in second with a time of 1.33.38.

“It’s their home hill and they definitely have a lot of experience on this hill, so we just tell them to trust their instincts and their skills and just execute,” Jones said after the race. “Training here in the fall and skiing on injected snow, it’s basically the hardest surface you can make manually, so they’ve dealt with some tough conditions and they all get used to that so this is well within their comfort zone. At this point they’re just doing what they’ve been doing.”

Other top-10 finishers recognized at the GS awards ceremony were Sands Simonton in sixth and Tagert Mueller in ninth. SSCV’s Ryan Collins finished 18th on the day, Luke Vickerman was 19th, Riley Kilgore 25th, Colin Suszynski 26th, and Paul Cuthbertson 53rd. Keenan Zopf and Colbey Derwin did not finish the first run.

The 2012 Rocky/Central J3 Junior Olympics finish up the week of competition today with the slalom on Golden Peak, scheduled to start at 9:45 a.m.