Success, sportsmanship prevail in alpine races
An important series for U14 alpine skiers to advance to the regional championships, the legacy Dan Prater Memorial Cup races, are just as memorable for the sportsmanship they build among the 250 athletes from Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona who compete for Nation Team awards by collecting “Prater Points.”
Now in its 35th year, the Prater Cup, which finished Feb. 22, includes super-G, giant slalom and slalom races on Mount Crested Butte that help determine who will qualify for the 2015 Rocky/Central U14 championships, scheduled for March10-15 in Winter Park.
The final roster of U14 and U16 racers who will represent AVSC will be included in the March 4 edition of The Aspen Times.
In the afternoons and evenings, the athletes, who are assigned to one of 16 nation teams, take part in a scavenger hunt, barbecue, basketball game and other activities that build camaraderie among the competitors.
The races honor the colorful local Dan Prater, who was instrumental in that town’s early ski racing history and is recalled annually through this late-February event.
The AVSC core values of commitment, teamwork and integrity were on display during this year’s Prater Cup, according to coaches.
“Our athletes did very well,” said head U14 coach Gillian Hearn. “All around, the level of skiing at Prater was the highest I’ve ever seen.”
The super-G race is traditionally the first event of the weekend and, true to form, the weather was snowy and windy that day.
Despite the inclement weather and gusts that eventually shut down the lift, AVSC’s Stian Davenport took ninth. He was part of a men’s team that “did a great job finding aerodynamics at every opportunity they could,” Hearn said.
Other finishers included: Tucker Thomas, 12, Will Laing, 20, Sean Patterson, 30, Ethan DeMoraes, 35, Alex Ilic, 38. Gordon Davies, Noah Forman and Flynn Hill also finished.
On the women’s side, in a field of 129 contenders, Margo McHugh was 12th, Levyn Thomas 16th, Ally Cornelius 19th, Chiara Bassi 29th, Elle Murphy, 36th, Summer McSwain, 47th.
Also finishing were: Edie Sherlock, Lucia Penzel, Tessa Munro, Macy Hopkinson, Bailea Ramsey and Sophie Wilcox.
There were two giant slaloms. Cornelius had a fourth in GS, and McHugh had a 14th. Levyn Thomas was fifth in the afternoon race, Cornelius 14th and McHugh 19th to lead the top women.
AVSC men rolled in the morning giant slalom with Sean Patterson going 11th, Alex Ilic 16th, Tucker Thomas 18th, Ethan DeMoreas 19th and Stian Davenport 21st.
Tristan Silfverskiold was among AVSC team members who finished the GS.
In the afternoon, top finishers were Tucker Thomas at 18, Alex Ilic 21 and Will Laing 22.
There were two slalom races as well. Highlights included: Tucker Thomas fifth, Stian Davenport 11th, Alex Ilic 17th, Ethan DeMoreas 18th, Dillon Hendrickson, 29, Flynn Hill 38 and Gordon Davies, 40. Will Laing improved from his morning finish of 21st to take 15th in the afternoon race.
A pair of AVSC athletes were given awards based on their attitudes and sportsmanship, which speak to what Dan Prater was all about.
Will Laing received the sportsmanship award voted on by coaches and officials, due to his overwhelmingly positive reaction in handling disappointment.
After being interfered with during his fast run, Laing took a rerun but fell, according to Hearn.
AVSC’s Bailea Ramsey also was recognized among her peers for having a good attitude. The first-year racer “is always out there giving 120 percent,” Hearn said.
Slalom highlights for the women among the two races included: Cornelius fourth, Thomas fifth, McHugh 10th, McSwain 19th and Elle Murphy 26th.
At Aspen Highlands, new relationships were forged as well during a pair of SmartWool giant slalom and slalom races that were co-sponsored by the National Brotherhood of Skiers as part of their Ski Summit week.
The field included 78 women and 58 men from the Rocky Mountain region and several Eastern clubs. Nine of those athletes were affiliated with the NBS, which promotes diversity in skiing and also has a goal of sending more athletes of color to the international ranks.
The course on the Stapleton Alpine Training Center, which included hard injected snow, was befitting of the international teams that trained here prior to the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek.
The bulletproof surface provided solid experience for the 14- and 15-year-old racers, some of who will compete in next week’s U16 championships in Steamboat. The final team field won’t be determined until the aforementioned Council Cup races at Ski Cooper, which give those who haven’t qualified for championships one more shot at making the finals.
For the giant slalom, Colby Lange of Vail was the winner, followed by a trio of AVSC skiers, Hayden Fake, Dexter Edelman and Cooper Cornelius.
On the women’s side, it was Nellie Rose Talbot of SSCV in first, followed by teammate Dylan Fiore.
AVSC’s Isabella Johansson was third. AVSC’s Anna Patterson was seventh and Mariel Gorsuch was ninth.
Sunday’s slalom saw a Vail sweep of the podium lead by Talbot. But AVSC had three finishers in the top 10, with Devan McSwain in fourth, Dairinn Bowers in sixth and Gorsuch eighth.
Aspen’s Cooper Cornelius was second among the men followed by Andrew Hancock in eighth.
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After falling through a trapdoor in his Telluride home a couple of weeks ago, Chris Busbee wasn’t sure if he’d be able to keep his streak going. He had run in every New York City Marathon since 1998 and was going to run it virtually this year in Aspen before his spill put all that in jeopardy.