Aspen boys ski team ready to defend title
The unique thing about high school skiing is the additional team component of a sport rooted in individual achievement. It’s also what makes winning team state championships so difficult.Aspen High School alpine skiing coach Bill Madsen can testify to that fact, after the Skiers boys – paced by Paul Britvar’s individual state title in slalom and strong nordic showing – put it all together last season to win their seventh state title at Keystone.On the girls side, Jenny Hearn won individual titles in slalom and giant slalom to help the girls team to finish runner-up behind Summit.Madsen predicts a similar result for the boys team at his year’s state championship races in Winter Park on Friday and Saturday, but was hesitant to predict another top-three finish for his girls team.While Britvar returns for his final two high school races, Hearn won’t be in Winter Park because she failed to meet state qualifying criteria. So did all but two of the alpine racers on the girls team. And with the top three finishers from each respective school earning points, the absence of one finisher in both giant slalom and slalom could hurt the girls team’s showing.Hearn failed to qualify for state in both slalom and GS because she didn’t compete in the mandated number of high school races this season in each discipline. State qualifying criteria states that racers must compete in at least two races in a certain discipline, and finish among the top third in one of those races.Hearn completed the latter but, because of other skiing commitments with Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, was unable to do the former. The incentive to choose club-affiliated races over high school competitions is simple: The Colorado High School Activities Association’s races aren’t connected with the International Skiing Federation, which means aspiring World Cup racers like Hearn don’t collect valuable FIS points – which determine national ranking – when they compete in them. Thus, it’s hard to rationalize choosing a high school race over an FIS-sanctioned race.”Our girls team is going to be a little short,” Madsen said, also noting that prized freshman Olivia Davis won’t be at state for the same reasons. Davis won the first high school girls race of the season – a GS at Copper Mountain in December.The two alpine skiers to represent the girls team Friday and Saturday are juniors Christina Van Moorsel and Taylor Buzbee.Van Moorsel’s best results have come in GS, where she finished sixth at Aspen’s home GS at Aspen Highlands in January. “She’s been our most consistent racer this year,” Madsen said. “We have faster racers, but she’s been the one who has completed the most races.”Buzbee’s top results this season were a 20th in slalom at Vail and at 27th in GS at Loveland.Britvar, in his final high school season, is the leader of the Aspen boys team. He enters the state meet with two wins this season – the first in the opening GS at Copper Mountain and the second coming in a slalom at Beaver Creek. He was also fifth in a GS at Loveland.The other podium contenders for Aspen include sophomore Wiley Maple in both GS and slalom, junior Steven Buzbee in GS, sophomore Sam Coffey in slalom, senior Brandon Briscoe in slalom and junior Dylan Bontempo in GS. Madsen also noted that junior Whit Fuller, whom he convinced to come out for the team this year, shouldn’t be counted out.”He’s kind of an interesting guy,” Madsen said. “He does all the freestyle stuff at Snowmass and competes in all the big air competitions. We talked him into racing, and he’s been finishing in the top 15. … He’s just been kind of watching and figuring it out.”Buzbee, like Britvar, also has a win to his name this season after topping the field in the Skiers’ home GS. Maple was third at the Beaver Creek slalom and was fourth at the Loveland GS. Briscoe was second behind Buzbee at home, and also finished fifth in the slalom at Vail.”We’ve got a lot of guys knocking on the door,” Madsen said. “I’d say the chances of us repeating are very strong. The nordic team is very strong, and we’ve we’ve got a lot of boys who can score a lot of points for the team. We’re definitely the team to beat.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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