Coast-to-coast competitors net multiple medals
There’s something extra special about your first time at nationals.
Good health, results and luck must come together after a long season of work, and when they do, you can finally revel in the moment.
Six AVSC Nordic skiers — Hailey Swirbul, Chelsea Moore, Jozie Wille, Jack Sweeney, Nick Sweeney and Graham Houtsma — brought back memories and medals from Lake Tahoe, where they competed last week at the 2015 Cross Country Junior Nationals.
Adding to the thrill of even qualifying for the races open only to the country’s top juniors, Aspen native Chelsea Moore was selected as a Colorado flag bearer.
Moore recalled how fun it was to march in the parade in downtown Truckee with teammates and new friends from the Rocky Mountain region and back east.
She skied very well as a first timer, said head coach and program director Maria Stuber. Moore’s best event was the 5K skate, run in a downpour. In the sprints, where a podium was in her sights, the results didn’t go as planned.
“I was leading the pack up one of the last hills of the race” but fell after what she characterized as some aggressive skiing by another competitor.
Now in the most competitive age group, U18, AVSC’s Hailey Swirbul stood on the podium three times in the Tahoe races: She was third in the 5K freestyle and the 10K classic and was part of a relay team that finished second.
“It was a good week for Hailey (but) her age group was stacked,” with two of the women she skied against this season at the world juniors,” said Stuber.
Jack Sweeney had a notable finish as well, 19th in the 5k skate, Stuber said.
Nick Sweeney’s best finish came in the 3X3 relay.
Moore said after two weeks away from a Nordic focus she’ll be back at it again.
Coach Stuber seems as energized for next season as the one that just wrapped.
“My big goal was, they go out there and leave thinking they have a chance to train really hard and be motivated for our summer and fall training next season. They can see that anything is possible next year,” she said.
Powderhorn Resort on the Grand Mesa once again hosted the U12 alpine finale, the traditional championship event that closes their season. Next year, the resort is planning a significant upgrade that includes a high-speed chair to cut ride time in half.
Staff reported that the new owners’ energy extends to ski racing, as evidenced by the well-run events held under summer temperatures.
“The race hill was prepared perfectly through both freezing and melting conditions,” said AVSC alpine lead U12 coach Willie Volckhausen.
It was AVSC’s most successful weekend there in over a decade. Tyler Thomas led the charge, winning both slalom races on Sunday. He was third in a GS on Saturday.
Topher Davenport won the second giant slalom after finishing fourth in the first race. Stella Johansson was also a slalom winner.
“Our gold medalists outperformed some of the best skiing I’ve witnessed at this event in 12 years,” Volckhausen said.
Success extended beyond the podium with top 10s in the crowded field by AVSC skiers Garrett Dollahan (best finish, fourth in slalom) and top 20s by Taylor Laing, Jake Morgan, Sam McDermott, James Kelly and Christian Kelly.
Over at Winter Park, the U14 skiers wrapped up their regional championships, which culminated with a sixth place finish overall by AVSC’s Levyn Thomas. The final series included super-G, giant slalom, slalom and “Kinder Kombi” races.
Thomas’ consistent finishes earned her a trip to the CanAm series races March 26-29 at Mount Tremblant, according to Darlene Nolting of the USSA.
The super-G was Margo McHugh’s best event. She was ninth. On the men’s side, Tucker Thomas skied to 17th and Ethan DeMoreas was 20th.
McHugh skied to top-20s in giant slalom, with 18th and 19th.
Allyson Cornelius was 11th and 15th. She was 9th in the Kombi.
Sean Patterson was 17th in the second GS.
Also cracking the top 30 in a tough men’s field that weekend were Will Laing, Stian Davenport and Alexander Ilic
Wiley Maple: U.S. downhill champion
Notable among AVSC alums this week was Wiley Maple’s well-deserved win at the U.S. Nationals in Sugarloaf, Maine.
In his best event, the downhill, Maple beat Canadians Tyler Werry and Jeffrey Frisch. Nick Mitchell of AVSC was 20th.
“I kept it a little tighter in the sections that mattered and it ended up well,” Maple said. “It feels good to be national champion, although unfortunate that the best downhillers are at World Cup Finals.”
Competing at the World Cup Finals in Meribel, France is AVSC’s Alice McKennis. She was 12th in downhill behind winner and teammate Lindsey Vonn.
Among women at the U.S. nationals, Galena Wardle was 19th. She was also scheduled to start in a FIS Nor-Am cup super G and combined race on Thursday.
Nor-Am Cup races and U.S. Nationals events continue into next week at Sugarloaf.
Freestyle Junior Nationals
AVSC’s representation is strong at the USSA Freestyle Junior Nationals in Park City. Look for full coverage in the March 25 Aspen Times.
Cassidy Jarrell will compete in four events: Slopestyle, aerials, big air and halfpipe. Also skiing for AVSC are: Ian Catto (aerials and big air) and Kai Morris and Tristan Feinberg, who will compete in aerials, big air and halfpipe.
Tyler Spence (aerials, slopestyle), Andrew Tierney (slopestyle, big air, halfpipe), Keenan McIntyre (big air, halfpipe) and Joey Lang, Gage Carr and Carson Campisi (halfpipe) round out the team.
In addition, mogul skier Aaron Lee competed in the bumps on March 20.
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