Kids on top in Town Downhill
Thomas Domenach is a name you will hear again.On Sunday Domenach won the John Meyer Memorial Town Downhill, beating out close to 60 other racers on Racer’s Edge at Buttermilk.It was quite a feat, considering he’s only 16 years old.A native of Megeve, France, Domenach is spending the year training and racing for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. He settled on Aspen after meeting club coach Casey Puckett last year.”I’m here to race and have fun, but when you’re in the starting gate, it’s just about winning,” Domenach said.Domenach won with a time of 1 minute, 21.13 seconds, edging out second-place finisher and fellow AVSC racer McCabe Mallin (1:21.28). Domenach will briefly return to France in March for the junior national championships, which he plans to win. As for the future, Domenach’s goal is to “win the World Cup,” he said with a confident grin.Sunday’s Town Downhill marked the first in which juniors were allowed to compete. The Aspen Times Town Race Series, which is affiliated with the Town Downhill and attracts many of the same racers, also opened to junior racers for the first time this season.
“Everybody was really psyched about it. It added an extra level of competition,” Gary Gleason, the publicity coordinator for the local races, said about the junior faction.Another AVSC athlete, Gillian Hearn, won the women’s division in 1:24.22, more than 10 seconds faster than runner-up Catherine Lutz (1:34.38), who was racing in her first-ever downhill.”I have a race coming up on the same hill, and I decided to use this as a training run,” Hearn, 19, said. “The nets were set up so I figured I’d just go out and have fun.”A total of 59 racers in five different classes raced in the downhill, which is the largest turnout in close to 10 years, according to Gleason.The downhill was named after longtime Town Series racer John Meyer, who died of cancer in 1997. Scott Nichols, the Aspen Highlands race director, changed the name in 1998 as a tribute to Meyer.”He was a great guy, a good buddy to all of us,” Gleason said.David Zamansky won the men’s over-50 division for the second consecutive year with a time of 1:24.87, narrowly beating Ian Long (1:24.96). Zamansky has now won every Town Series race in his division this season.
“Ian and I have been battling all year,” Zamansky said. “I knew I had to come out and race hard.”Don Johnson of Frisco won the men’s over-40 division with a time of 1:22.94.”I got my ass kicked by a bunch of kids. But I didn’t ski that good,” said Johnson, who races about six days a week in the winter.”I love coming to this town and partying hard – party till you puke,” he added.But Johnson maintains that hard partying didn’t slow him down on the course.”The course was pretty slow,” he said. About four inches of snow fell overnight. “But it was still a pretty good course. I was going well over 75 miles per hour,” Johnson continued.Jericho Hajduk won the boys’ youth division with a time of 1:22.98. Jenny Hearn, Gillian’s little sister, won the girls’ youth division with a time of 1:27.50.
For some local racers, the Town Downhill is the highlight of the season. Gleason said the series is competitive, but it’s also about camaraderie.”The downhill is a head game – it’s very intense,” he said.Lutz, who works at The Aspen Times, said one of the coolest aspects of the series is that the field is so diverse.”That’s what’s so exciting – to have world-class athletes skiing next to you,” she said.As for racing in her first downhill, Lutz said “it’s a whole level above the technical disciplines.””You have to convince yourself going this fast is OK. After I stopped at the bottom my knees started shaking, and I had this incredible feeling of excitement, like ‘Whooo, I did it.”Steve Benson’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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