Skier boys win at Beaver Creek slalom |

Skier boys win at Beaver Creek slalom

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. If the Aspen boys ski team is to capture state championship No. 9, it will rely heavily on the contributions of its top three.Skiers Giovanni Negroni, James Britvar and Sam Coffey supplied ample reason for optimism in Friday’s slalom at Beaver Creek. The trio finished third, fifth and eighth, respectively, for Aspen, which edged rival Summit, 167-161, to notch its first win of the season.”It was a challenging slalom hill, and a bunch of our guys really stepped up,” Aspen head coach Bill Madsen said Tuesday. “I really thought our girls team was a lot stronger than our guys, but it really hasn’t worked out that way.”While the boys flourished, Aspen’s girls floundered. Two of the team’s four competitors were disqualified or did not finish. Katie Ryan, the first-run leader, hit a rut during her second run and was bounced off course. The Skiers, who struggled because of the absences of Alex Maple, who broke her leg in a recent fall, and Olivia Davis, who did not compete Friday, finished 13th.The Aspen boys know the feeling. Negroni, an Italian exchange student, and Coffey, one of the nation’s preeminent young skiers, were conspicuously absent during the high school season’s opening race – a giant slalom – Dec. 14 at Copper Mountain. The lack of depth proved costly: Aspen finished near the bottom of the overall standings.Coffey, who was slated to compete in Sunday River, Maine, wasn’t expected to make it to Beaver Creek. While he made it in time, and wound up posting a top-10 result, it was Negroni and Britvar, brother of two-time state champion, Paul, who made the biggest statements.”Giovanni is a real joy to have, and he proved he can bring it,” Madsen said. “I’m glad to have him. We had some big shoes to fill, and he’s certainly doing that.”Madsen and the Skiers hope that trend continues Friday in the season’s only home race – a giant slalom at Aspen Highlands. Wiley Maple, who is not enrolled at Aspen this semester because of the demands of his competitive racing schedule, finished first here last winter, Coffey was fourth and then-senior Stephen Buzbee was 10th for the Skiers, who lost to Summit by just two points. Summit’s girls nipped the Skiers at Highlands in 2007, too. Madsen said competing on home snow should help his boys team continue to excel and his girls team to rebound.”Giant slalom really suits the team well,” he said. “This is probably the best GS hill the high schoolers race on all season long. Thunderbowl is really a great hill. It has some transitions, it has an access road and it’s not a straight fall line. It’s really good test plus has some good pitch. “It’s good to ski on the same hill and the same snow we ski on every day.” It remains to be seen if this year’s squad, centered largely around a host of new faces, can follow the leads of 2007’s teams – Aspen’s girls were second at state in Vail last season.Questions abound, from the loss of key contributors to health and eligibility issues. Madsen is still uncertain if Coffey will compete the necessary amount of races needed to qualify for state. Balancing the demands of high school races with United States Ski and Snowboard Association commitments is difficult, Madsen said. If they’re at full strength, the boys proved Friday that, with the contributions of their nordic teammates, they could make the podium in February in Steamboat Springs. Madsen said the pieces are in place for both alpine teams to succeed.Both will take another step toward that goal at home Friday.”Summit has us by shear numbers, but I think we’ve got the psychological advantage,” Madsen said. “This is a new group of kids. [Last year’s championship] was another flag for the gym. We’re ready to get another one.”

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