Britvar lone Aspenite at J-2 alpine nationals | AspenTimes.com
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Britvar lone Aspenite at J-2 alpine nationals

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The first edition of the J-2 alpine U.S. National Championships opens later this week in Lake Placid, N.Y., bringing together the nation’s top 15- and 16-year-old downhillers, some for the very first time.

A series of four races ” downhill, super G, giant slalom and slalom ” the event was instituted so that America’s young elite, from Alaska to Maine and Colorado and in between, might prove themselves today as the Bode Millers of tomorrow.

Among the boys in the field will be only one Aspenite, Paul Britvar, a 16-year-old Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC) racer and Aspen High School sophomore.

Britvar, who won the boys high school state slalom title in Steamboat Springs last month, knows what he’s up against in his first truly national race: great ski racers, icy courses and intimidation from all fronts.

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But Sunday night those seemed to be the least of Britvar’s worries.

“It’s a crazy cold place,” he said. “I’ve only raced there once ” but it was the coldest I’ve ever been. I’ll need an Eskimo jacket. It was like a million degrees below zero last time. No joke.

“Good thing it’s March though, ’cause last time I went it was January.”

Britvar will know at least one other competitor in Elizabeth Woods, 15, a former AVSC racer who now attends Crested Butte Academy. Woods has also qualified for the races.

“Yeah,” Britvar confirmed with a sigh.

“She’s always like, ‘I beat you, again … You know, she’s always trying to annoy me.”

Britvar then added, laughing, “But she’s mine up there. I’m gonna destroy her up there.”

Britvar will race all four events in Lake Placid but he says he’s better at the technical events, GS and slalom.

Said AVSC head alpine ability coach Casey Puckett: “Paul is certainly talented and has great potential that is still not fully realized. He’s strongest in slalom and has a chance to do really well ” as a 15-year-old [on the racing calendar], he’ll be one of the younger competitors. He’s got a shot at a podium finish if he skis the way he’s been skiing.”

Britvar doesn’t know his national ranking (“Our coaches don’t like to tell us that kind of stuff,” he says), but he knows he will have his work cut out for him.

His first trip to Lake Placid last winter proved that much.

“There were all these guys from Lake Placid and various other famous places around the East, and it was really weird comparing myself to those guys,” Britvar said. “They’re really, really good ” they can ski ” and it was an honor to compare myself with them last year. And it’ll be an honor for me again this time.”

Britvar and an AVSC coach planned to travel to New York today.

Making a similar trip will be three AVSC nordic skiers for the J-1 and J-2 Junior Olympics, both national-level affairs as well, in Lake Placid at the same time. The nordic racers include J-1s Simi Hamilton and Brandon Cooper, and J-2 Laura Hatanaka.

Britvar said he aims to stick to fundamentals.

“I’m going to be really focused but I don’t want to be too serious about it,” he said. “I’m not going to try to ski above my skills, because what I have is what I’m going up there with. I’m gonna give it my best shot and try to rise to the occasion.

“I just wish I had one other friend from Aspen going,” he added. “Now I’ll be stuck with people from Vail and Summit. Bummer.”

[Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is mutrie@aspentimes.com]


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