VAIL, Colo. – On March 15th, the competitive ski season came to an abrupt end amidst concerns of the rapid spread of COVID-19. Any remaining championship events were canceled after that date, but for local Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) mogul skiers that meant they had one more opportunity to shine in the U.S. Mogul Junior National Championships at Winter Park. Taking place between the 13th and the 14th, the top athletes under the age of 19 in the nation were invited to attend. Among them were 11 athletes from SSCV: Jameson Kust, TJ Soulakis, Mylo Ornoski, Oliver Smith, Jiah Cohen, and Nash Lucas comprised the SSCV men while Tegan Large, Liz Lemley, Cali Carr, Kaiya Torres and Lemon Walker made up the women invitees.
Winter Park’s Ambush mogul course proved to be a challenging one for the competitors. Featuring a precipitous top section dotted with pitches of up to 31 degrees flattening to a mere 17 degrees at the finish, the top air had skiers fighting to maintain strong lines and controlled speed out of their landings. The middle section demanded strategic planning with the shift in slope to carry speed into the final flats portion. Over the course of two days of competition, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail battled it out in a field of 77 men and 64 women.
The men’s competition began on Friday with SSCV boys taking off in the initial two qualifying runs. Leading the Lazerdogs in the qualifiers was Oliver Smith in 2nd, followed by Mylo Ornowski in 4th, and Nash Lucas in 7th. Ornowski was riding the high of his dual event win at the Rocky Mountain Freestyle Divisional Series Championship that occurred two weeks prior, and Lucas was coming off of his own single win at regionals. With plenty to prove, they followed Smith to the final round. Outside the final, TJ Soulakis put in a solid run to come in 36th, Jameson Kust trailed shortly behind in points with an otherwise clean run in 40th, and Jiah Cohen, at only age 13, went back tuck to cork 7 to round out the weekend in 41st overall in the deep U19 field.
In the finals, Ornowski skied fast to retain his 4th place standing overall and secure a 2nd place spot in the U17 age class behind overall winner Cole McDonald. Smith and Lucas finished 17th and 18th respectively after major breaks in the finals.
Saturday, March 14, saw SSCV women take to the course with gusto. Tegan Large led the charge to the podium after qualifying in 4th with a relatively conservative air package. Upping the ante in the final, Large earned the highest air scores of the day for the women, with her back tuck to back truck combo. Teammate Kaiya Torres put down her best run of the week in the final to place 13th overall and finish just off the U15 podium. Liz Lemley continued the success she had seen earlier in the season and led the qualifier round with the best scores out of both runs. Cali Carr finished in 32nd overall and took home a gold medal for the U13 age class. Lemon Walker, fighting to come back from a training injury she incurred in February, rallied over the course of the day to finish in 30th.
“Overall, it was a strong showing for the young SSCV squad,” said Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s mogul program director, John Dowling. “Tegan Large capped off her solid NorAm season with a podium finish. Lemley’s first two runs in qualification showed her as the dominant force out there. Oliver Smith did some of his best skiing yet, so while 17th is disappointing, he’s showing his talent and potential for next season. Likewise, Nash Lucas has shown he has what it takes to qualify but he’s still working on that extra gear for the final. All the U15s in this comp – and Cali Carr in U13 – are poised for success at the national level.”
For a complete list of results please go to https://www.freestylejuniornationals.com/.