A group of young Vail racers have excelled in just about every race this season and are without a doubt some of the best alpine skiers in the country amongst their age group. This past week the U14 USSA Marriott Championships was held in Winter Park. The championships qualification process this season has been arduous not only for the U14’s racers, but across all USSA age classes. Alpine racers from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) were among the dozens of teams that headed down to the championships this past week. Needless to say, they did fairly well yet again.
Thursday’s kinder kombi event is relatively new to the championships line up. It’s a crossbred event where racers make turns around slalom gates as well as giant slalom gates. The U14 boys were at it again on Thursday with Bridger Gile from SSCV placing first by almost one second, followed by Colby Lange on the podium in second. Brendan Keane raced well to a fourth place finish followed by Reese Irwin in a tie for seventh, and Ben Kooiman in ninth. The girl’s from SSCV skied strong with Dylan Fiore in seventh and Zoe Livran in eighth.
The undefeatable squad of boys made their mark again in Friday’s giant slalom races and six total SSCV athletes ended in the top ten during race one. Lange traded places with Gile from the day before taking the number one spot by nearly two seconds followed by Gile in second place. Both Gile and Lange were forerunners for the U16 championships at Beaver Creek, and both had respectable times even in comparison to the older class. In race two Keane stayed consistent landing in fourth place followed by Jacob Dilling in seventh, Matt Macaluso in eighth, and Kooiman in 10th. “These guys are impressive. They continue to perform well in every event. There are nearly 100 boys racing in the championships and our top racers continue to land in the top ten. Honestly all of our athletes, girls included, have done great this season. Their hard work and dedication is what got them to the championships in the first place,” said SSCV’s U14 alpine coach Robin Chace. In the second giant slalom race of the day, Lange skied to a first place finish followed by Dilling in fourth, and Keane in fifth.
The girl’s skied well in the giant slalom races with Jessica McMurtry coming up with a great third place finish in race one and two of the day. Livran has been hanging out in the top ten all season and ended in fourth during the first giant slalom event and fifth during race two of the day. SSCV’s Haley Frischholz skied to a fifth place finish in race one and a fourth place finish in race two. Michaela Strizencova skied fast in race one finishing in eighth. During race two Lily Dines skied strong to a ninth place finish.
The final event was slalom on Saturday with more outstanding results from both the Vail boys and girls. Gile impressively won both races of the day by a small margin. Dilling placed third in race one followed by Keane in seventh, and Lange in eighth. Race two looked similar with Dilling in third, Keane in fifth, Lazier in seventh, and Lange in eighth. On the girls side there was Gretchen Pavelich in sixth, McMurtry in seventh, and Fiore in eighth for race one. McMurtry placed seventh again in race two followed by Strizencova in eighth, and Fiore in ninth. The snow held out until just after the second race of the day. The snowstorm was a nice wrap up to the USSA U14 Junior Championships letting everyone know that we still have a little winter left.
Although this race season is more or less finished for theses U14 racers, their names will surely be on dozens more podium results in the near future.