AVSC J4s lock up Junior Olympic berths | AspenTimes.com
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AVSC J4s lock up Junior Olympic berths

Aspen Times Staff

Ten of Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s J4 alpine racers, ages 11 and 12, are headed to Winter Park later this month to compete at the Rocky/Central Junior Olympics.The crew of five boys and five girls locked up their berths at the Prater Cup in Crested Butte Feb. 24-26. The Rocky Mountain Division competition featured a super G, two slaloms and two giant slaloms.One of the prevailing storylines of the weekend was the ongoing battle between’s AVSC’s Katie Ryan and Steamboat’s Greta Byrne for the top spot on the podium. For the AVSC boys, Bobby Moyer, 11, garnered the club’s best results for the weekend after teammate and podium partner George Rodney injured himself in Saturday morning’s giant slalom.Ryan started off with a dominating win in Friday’s super G, edging the rest of the field by more than a full second.”She deserved to win it after skiing a perfect run,” said AVSC coach Rohan Verplank. Teammate Chandler Stapleton followed in fifth place, and Hannah Hemming moved into position to qualify for the Junior Olympics with a 16th-place finish. “Hannah got off to a great start with that run,” Verplank said.For the boys in super G, Rodney just missed the podium with a fourth-place showing. “This was George’s best race of the entire year,” Verplank said. “He skied a very clean race, keeping a high line through the steeps and maintaining his speed in the flats. It was a complete top-to-bottom run.” Rodney’s finish earned him a spot to compete at Junior Olympics, although his injury will keep him from racing. Moyer finished 11th in Friday’s race, followed by teammate Luke Hemming in 16th – results that also locked up spots to compete at Winter Park. On Saturday, it was two giant slaloms for the boys while the girls tackled two slaloms.Moyer finished fifth and sixth to lead the team, but the story of the day was an 11th-place showing from teammate Teddy Benge – a personal best for the first-year racer.”For him to qualify for Junior Olympics is simply remarkable,” Verplank said. “He’s just an extremely natural skier who knows how to turn a ski.”Ryan won her second race of the weekend, besting Steamboat’s Byrne by half of a second in the morning slalom. Teammate Katie Mickey finished 19th, and Stapleton was 21st out of a field of 93 skiers.Byrne and Ryan swapped positions in the afternoon slalom and Mickey jumped all the way up to 12th place. Jacqueline Jones also had a solid result, rebounding from a disappointing morning race to finish 22nd – and lock up a Junior Olympics berth.The AVSC boys struggled in the first of two slaloms Sunday. Moyer and Benge failed to finish, which left Tyler Nelson as the club’s top finisher, in 22nd place. “It was a tough course that tripped up a lot of racers,” Verplank said. “Both Bobby and Teddy fell the exact same way on the exact same gate.”Moyer regrouped for the afternoon slalom, leading all AVSC finishers with a fifth-place finish. “Bobby really knows how to study a course before confronting it, having been a J5 racer for a couple of years,” Verplank said. “He’s doing great in his first year as a J4.” Nelson bettered his morning result with a 17th-place finish.Ryan had a rare fall in first giant slalom race for the girls Sunday, which left Mickey – who finished sixth – as the only AVSC racer to break the top 10. Stapleton was 17th. “Katie sometimes has a tendency to check her speed, but I’ve never seen her complete a race with that much focus,” Verplank said. Ryan came back in the afternoon with newfound determination, but was unable to unseat Byrne from the top spot on the podium, finishing second. Mickey also raced with grit, moving up to fifth in the last race of the weekend.”This was Katie’s best day ever – a total breakthrough where she attacked both courses from start to finish,” Verplank said. Stapleton also finished the weekend on a high with a seventh place. “Chandler has improved more than any other girl on the team this season,” Verplank said. “She’s really come into her own with solid and consistent finishes.”


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