The top three in Thursday’s slalom race were Tommy Ford, U.S. Ski Team member, Leif Kristian Haugen, hailing from Norway, and Michael Ankeny, who is also with the U.S. Ski Team.
But on this day, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Alex Leever, a 16 year-old J2, did something today at the U.S. Alpine National Championships that even he could not believe. Let’s rewind a bit to how he got there.
Taylor Shiffrin, number 33 on the day, was first out of the start for SSCV, and with the goal of making the flip on the first run (the top thirty on the first run reverse order on the second run), Shiffrin had the 12th fastest run on his first go at the track. This meant he would start 19th for the second run.
So, along came SSCV’s Cannon O’Brien, starting 67th. O’Brien ripped his first run from back in the pack to place 22nd on his first run; he would now start ninth for run two.
And then came Leever. Starting 75th, Leever charged the hill to finish 28th on the first run, and this had him starting third on the second run.
“I knew the course would be as good as it gets for my second run,” said Leever. “And I had to get after it.”
And get after it he did.
“I got late and back a little ways down the course,” Leever said. “But I was super aggressive on the flats, and I think that’s where I pulled it off.”
“Leever left nothing on the table,” said coach Peter Lange. “He just absolutely skied as hard as he could. And to win the second run from a start number of 75, and to finish 21st overall on the day, is nothing short of remarkable.”
“I can’t believe I beat skiers from the World Cup circuit,” Leever said.
As for Shiffrin, he skied his way to a 17th on the day, fifth for the junior men.
“Shiffrin is clearly proving he is one of the best juniors in the country,” said Lange. “This is a great result for him, and we are proud of the season he has had.”
And O’Brien, well he finished the day in 20th, and seventh for the juniors, showing he is also one of the best juniors in the country.
“To come in 20th from a start of 67 is a great day for O’Brien,” said Lange. “He has come an amazing distance this season, and to finish this well against such a strong field is a testament to his hard work.”
SSCV’s Christoph Niederhauser, Sean McCormick, and Nick Braun finished 30th, 34th, and 50th, respectively, in Thursday’s slalom.
The U.S. National Championships continue today, 3/30, with Super G racing for the men and women at Winter Park