Nordic skier ‘creates her own miracles’ at nationals
AVSC skier Hailey Swirbul of Basalt earned two national titles last week at the 2014 USSA Cross Country Junior Championships in Stowe, Vt.
Swirbul won the 5K classic race March 3 by a convincing margin as well as the 5K mass start March 7.
She was also second in the classic sprint and third in the team relay.
“Hailey’s two national championships were the result of hard work, dedication and race plan-execution,” said Maria Stuber, AVSC’s nordic director and head coach. “There was no luck involved in this. Just a very talented kid that has spent a full year working on process-oriented tasks and perfect execution of the things in her control.”
Prior to the week’s first win, coach and athlete discussed a story in the New York Times featuring alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin. There, Shiffrin was quoted as saying, “You can create your own miracles, but you do it by never looking past all the little steps along the way.”
“This is the most difficult thing to teach talented young athletes, and Hailey gets it,” Stuber said. “It showed most on the days that Hailey didn’t find herself on the top step of the podium. She had the same mindset and was able to walk away from the finish line with a gracious smile, giving her opponents all the credit. No excuses, no regrets. I was equally proud of her on these days.”
AVSC was also represented at the junior nationals by Logan and Hudson McNamee of Blue Lake.
“Logan McNamee had perhaps the performances of the week,” Stuber said. “She went into the junior national championships as a rookie and the last pick of the 13 U16 girls on the RMN team. With no expectations, she raced her heart out. Logan showed us all that she very much belonged in this elite group of racers every single day of the week.”
McNamee may have most impressed her coach and others in attendance with a gutsy decision to ski two legs of a relay race (due to an uneven number of competitors to form relays).
“She was the only skier in the whole event to do this, and she skied extremely well in both legs,” Stuber said.
While clearly exhausted at the end, Stuber said McNamee was “shining from commitment, teamwork and integrity, she pushed through it to have the 17th fastest time in both legs,” making up time on many competitors at the finish.
Older brother Hudson McNamee stayed consistent all week and was thorough in executing race plans and remaining positive.
The mighty threesome of AVSC athletes who competed at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe were nearly joined by another pair: Nina Beidleman was first alternate and Nick Sweeney missed the team by just nine points.
“You can bet that these two athletes will work very hard this summer and be in this mix in 2015,” Stuber said.
With downhill and super-G races now in the record books, the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi have showcased AVSC’s eight national team athletes.
Laurie Stephens is a double bronze winner in the two speed events that have been contested.
Teammate Heath Calhoun barely missed the podium, taking fourth in the super-G.
The downhill, the first alpine event of these Paralympics, proved formidable to many in the field. Tyler Walker, AVSC’s much-decorated skier and the first American male to win an overall World Cup title, had a dramatic high speed crash in the race and was airlifted off the course.
He suffered a concussion and some bruises but in typical “T-Bone” Walker style, he is hoping to compete later in the week. Walker’s teammate Andrew Kurka suffered a back injury and training and is out for these games.
As the U18 Alpine Championships wrapped up last week at Copper Mountain, Ben Throm recorded a thrilling second place finish in the slalom. Just behind his was teammate Colby Lane in fourth place.
Out in Squaw Valley, Calif., U21 Devon Cardamone impressed by winning a slalom and taking third in a giant slalom. Teammate Nick Veth also had a good week with four top-10 finishes.
Gearing up for their regional championships is the U14 team. This year, AVSC will send its largest U14 in at least five years to the series of races that kick off beginning Sunday in Winter Park.
The 16 AVSC athletes who qualified through Prater Cup and Council Cup include: Devan McSwain, Livvy Clauss, Mariel Gorsuch, Levyn Thomas, India Cardamone, Margo McHugh, Annabelle Ward, Jack Bowers, Myles Pember, Stian Davenport, Will Laing, Jake Bassi, Tucker Thomas, Alex Ilic and Trey Thorpe.
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The National Standard Racing’s Platinum division finals were a family affair at Snowmass on Saturday. Siblings appeared on the start lists for the head-to-head, bracketed finals and families linked up to form intergenerational cheer squads.