The U16 National Performance Series (NPS) wrapped up five days of GS and super G training on the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain followed by a giant slalom race on Saturday. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail took four of the six available podium spots, sweeping not only the women’s podium but also the top four.
The contest carried extra weight because it represents one quarter of the qualifying process for the 7 Nations Cup to be held in Hinterreit, Austria this coming February. Seven boys and seven girls are expected to represent the U.S. at that event.
On the men’s side, SSCV’s Kellen Kinsella finished second to split the top three between Patrick Coughlin, of Burke, and Jack Reich, of Steamboat. Zane Worrell was SSCV’s next best finisher in seventh.
On the women’s podium, SSCV dominated with Kaitlyn Harsch, Cleo Braun and Allie Resnick finishing 1-2-3, respectively. Caroline Jones, of SSCV, rounded out the top four.
“This was the best U16s in the country — 48 of them. They only come together a couple times a year,” said U16 Head Coach Rob Worrell. “I’m extremely happy with the results. With the women, that’s a super strong group. They’ve always been strong — serious racehorses.”
As a result of her finish, Braun qualified to represent the U.S. at the Longines Future Ski Champions in Europe this winter. The event, which alternates between men’s and women’s races each year, brings together the future talents of alpine ski racing to compete at a major World Cup venue. The U.S. has been previously represented by the likes of SSCV’s River Radamus.
Worth noting, Kaitlyn Harsch, who came back from injury to win the Copper NPS, failed to qualify for the Longines event because she is two months too old to meet the race criteria.
“(Harsch) was coming back from basically a year-long injury. She was a couple seconds behind and forerunning last week at an FIS race. All of a sudden, she just dropped the hammer and is the winner. She had struggled all fall with the injury, so her victory was really sweet.”