AVSC: Wilder Dwight super-Gs are legacy speed races
January is the time for speed skiing, when classic races in Wengen and Kitzbuhl unfold on the international stage.
Speeds are also increasing for local juniors, from the AVSC rippers guest-coached recently by U.S. Ski Team member Katie Ryan, to the skiers competing on Racer’s Edge at Tiehack this weekend in the Wilder Dwight Memorial super-G races.
A qualifier for the U16 junior championships, the speed races honor the late Wilder Dwight, an Aspen native who was a three-time junior champion when he died in December 1986 while skiing into an open mine shaft on Peanut Butter Ridge, outside the Aspen Mountain boundary.
The Wilder Dwight legacy super-G’s, which start midmorning Saturday and Sunday and include training runs Friday, are a fitting way to honor the passionate ski racer who would be 40 years old.
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Competing in speed races requires solid fundamentals, which is why even when the AVSC skiers train super-G, they also work on their slalom and giant slalom skills.
Johno McBride, AVSC alpine head coach, who has spent many Januarys in Europe coaching speed skiers at the famed Hahnenkamm and Lauberhorn races, emphasized the basics this week with his athletes.
“In my opinion, technical skills have to be the foundation for everything,” said McBride.
Competitors in the Wilder Dwight super-Gs will have to rely upon myriad skills this weekend when they return to Racer’s Edge after a three-year hiatus (last year the races were on Highlands and in 2013 they were cancelled due to snow conditions).
“I’m pretty psyched to get back over there,” said McBride about an undulating hill that includes gliding sections and steeps.
In terms of perspective, the Waterfall section near the end can be as intimidating to local racers as the Streif is to competitors in the Hahnenhamm.
Racer’s Edge also will be the main venue for next month’s IPC adaptive nationals, set for Feb 12-15.
It was home base for U10 and U12 skiers during the recent speed week hosted by AVSC. Guest coach and Aspenite Katie Ryan, who is currently competing in Europe, said she “picked up a few pointers from these l’ill rippers.”
Those include: “War cry random words out of the start!”
AVSC was represented Jan. 3-4 in Steamboat Springs by a large team of alpine racers age 10 and above. They competed in four giant slalom races on a steep Mount Werner course.
Stella Sherlock of AVSC won all four races for the U10 women.
AVSC had seven of the top 10 finishers in the U12 men’s race on Saturday: Topher Davenport was first, Garrett Dollahan was second, Jake Morgan finished fourth and Tyler Thomas was fifth.
In seventh was Sam McDermott, eighth, James Kelly and Christian Kelly finished 10th.
Tyler Thomas won the first race Sunday morning for the U12 men.
The U14s also raced in Steamboat, after starting their week with a pair of Smartwool slaloms at Copper Mountain. The slaloms were mainly for the U14s to gain some valuable points which will determine their start order in future races.
In one of Saturday’s races, Allyson Cornelius was first, Margo McHugh was third and Chiara Bassi 10th.
Summer McSwain was 11th.
Earlier that day, Cornelius was second and Edie Sherlock finished 10th.
On the men’s side, Stian Davenport finished eighth and Will Lange ninth in a giant slalom.
The next day, in a near-repeat of Saturday, Cornelius was second, McHugh fourth and Bassi 10th in the first race. In the afternoon, top-10 results were seen by Cornelius and McHugh, who finished 5th and 6th.
On the men’s side, Stian Davenport was 11th and 10th in the day’s races, Sean Patterson had a 13th, and Alex Ilic finished with a 14th place in the morning and 15th in the afternoon event.
Weekly with Walt
Join several of Wilder Dwight’s family members as they recall his legacy on this week’s GrassRoots TV program “Weekly with Walt.”
Hosted by AVSC Excellence Director Walt Evans, the program premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday. “Weekly with Walt,” which airs on Channel 12 upvalley and Channel 82 below Catherine’s Store, will be repeated several times during the next seven days.
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