VAIL, Colo.  The top 12 and 13-year-old alpine racers in the Rocky and Central regions flocked to Steamboat Springs this last week for the Rocky Central Junior U14 Alpine Championships. For the elite skiers that qualified, the championships proved to be the perfect opportunity to showcase a season’s worth of effort. And despite the tough spring conditions they faced all week, the 37 Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) athletes that attended showed incredible strength and poise at every stage of the competition. In total, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail grabbed 21 out of 30 possible podiums in a massive domination of the highly competitive event. 

Head U14 coach for SSCV, Rob Worrell, was thrilled by the results, “When I set the objective goals for the team each season, the benchmark was taking 50% of the available podiums at all our championship events. And we smashed that objective this week.”

Chief Operating Officer of SSCV, John Hale, was also happy with the athletes’ performance and the cumulative teamwork that made the championship event possible, “The SSCV coaching team and the staff at Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club were incredible. Their efforts through challenging weather and the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19 were highly commendable.” 

“In order to do well this week, you had to be adaptable,” said SSCV U16 alpine coach, Kelia Zigich. “Our kids fought through low visibility and constantly shifting schedules due to weather and the stress of coronavirus – and put down some solid results while doing it.”

The five day long competition series kicked off on March 9 with training for the super giant slalom, a speed event with more turns than a traditional downhill race that requires athletes to be agile and strategic in their lines down the course. The actual super-G race took place two days later on Steamboat Ski Resort’s All Out trail, with racers reaching speeds greater than 50 miles per hour. 

In the men’s super-G, SSCV swept the first podium of many, with Stewart Bruce in 1st, Alex Krupka in 2nd, and Tyler Hopkins and Jackson McGlasson tied for 3rd. Henry Andrie  just missed the podium, coming .22 seconds off of Hopkins and McGlasson. Rounding out the top 10 for the event were Hunter Peterson in 8th and Oliver Kullberger in 10th. 

SSCV girls also dominated the super-G event and took almost half of the top 10 positions in a field of over 90 athletes. Leading the pack for her teammates was SSCV’s Nicole Begue in 2nd, then Ashley Anderson in 6th, followed by Logan Hale in 9th and Vika Zaytseva in 10th. 

The dawn of the next day marked the start of the first of two giant slalom (GS) races for the U14s. Both the girl’s and boy’s races saw many of the standouts from the day before continuing to distance themselves from their competitors. The first GS race for the men saw Bruce come away with gold, Krupka with silver, and Andrie with bronze. Tyler Hopkins stood just off the podium in 4th followed by Erik Strickler in 6th, McGlasson in 8th and Peterson in 10th.  In the second race, Bruce, Krupka, and Andrie reclaimed the same podium positions with teammate Andrew Gunther taking 5th and Hopkins 6th.  Jackson Leever – at only 11-years-old – came in 8th, finishing one-hundredth of a second before Strickler, who ended the day with a 9th place finish.

On the girl’s side, Anderson and Zaytseva took 1st and 2nd in their first GS race of the day, followed by their teammate Logan Hale in 7th. The second race saw Nicole Begue shoot up the ranks after a fall in the first race to claim a silver medal with Zaytseva in 4th and Anderson in 5th. 

Friday the 13th had the alpine skiers taking on Steamboat’s Howelsen Hill course for the two slalom races that would signal the end of the competition series. In a test of speed and adaptability, athletes were forced to rely on their instincts and training. The event saw Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes continue to populate the top 10, beginning with the girls. 

In their first slalom race, Zaytseva took 3rd, Anderson 4th, Solveig Moritz 6th, and Logan Hale 9th. In the second race, Zaytseva climbed up one spot on the podium, with Begue following up in 3rd. Anderson closed out her final race of the day in 5th, five-hundredths of a second behind the 4th place finisher Abby Olsen.

SSCV boys closed ranks between both of their slalom races. Bruce continued his 1st place streak with his first slalom race with Hopkins in 2nd, Gunther in 4th and McGlasson in 6th. In a startling show of resilience, Alex Krupka bounced back from a disqualification in the first race to wrest the top spot from Bruce in the second run. Bruce went home with silver and Hopkins took home his second bronze of the week. Andrie, Gunther, Strickler and McGlasson closed out their second race and their season in 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th place respectively.

When the snow settled following the last race of the day, SSCV’s Viktoria Zaytseva and Ashley Anderson came in 2nd and 3rd overall, followed by Nicole Bregue in 5th. Bruce emerged as the 1st place winner in 4 out of the 5 events of the championship series and ended with the highest scores of the week. Alex Krupka, Tyler Hopkins, Henry Andrie, Jackson McGlasson, and Andrew Gunther followed their teammate in 2nd through 6th place overall. 

And while this may be the end of the season for these U14 athletes, they left everything they had out there on the snow. Other skiers to be commended for qualifying and racing this week include: Tim Arrigoni, Calvin Schaffler, Finn Scarpella, Rick Shay, Ryan Warner, Enzo Napoli, Drew Clubine, Andrew Forstl, Sebastian Anderson,Walter Lurie, Maizy Douglas, Katie McDonald, Addison Dulaney, Madison Milligan, Anika Jobson, Nikka Kaufman, Sage Sappenfield, Julia Olsen, Taylor Hale, Abby Hoskins, and Eva Croney Ferraiuoli.