Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club will be well represented when the USSA's Chevy Trucks Junior Olympics Alpine Championships shift into high gear early next month.
Steamboat has qualified 22 skiers to compete in the Junior Olympics Championships for skiers in the J-1 and J-2 age divisions. Those championships, for skiers between 15-18, will be held in Beaver Creek on March 3-9.
The club will send another 11 skiers to compete in the J-3 championships, which will be held in Winter Park March 12-17.
"I think this is a sign of how strong our club is," Alpine director Tony Nunnikhoven said. "I think this could be one of the deepest J-3 teams that I've ever seen."
The older group, which is headed to the J-1/J-2 championships also will be strong.
Peter Phillips, Stewart Beall, Jason Zopf, Tony Cesolini, Robby Zehner, Chad Reitz, Brenden Gormley, Drew Roberts, Dan McKay, Carter Allen and John May will all represent the boys ski team at the Junior Olympic Championships.
Dmitry Chase, Gaspar Perricone, Damien LeRoy, Chris Erickson and Joel Adams have all qualified, but will be competing in NorAm events in Canada. Chris Gibson also qualified to ski, but is injured.
The women's team will be represented by Jen Shively, Lisa Perricone and Chelsea Boone at the J-1/J-2 championships. Gladys Weidt and Summer Owens are also qualified for the races, but are injured.
Zopf is coming off of a strong showing in Winter Park last weekend. He improved his seed with a first-place finish in the slalom race and a second in the giant slalom. Other top local finishes at that event included Erickson in fifth in the boys slalom race and Boone in third in the women's giant slalom.
The older junior racers (the J-1 and J-2 athletes) qualify for the Junior Olympics based on points or a top finish at last week's qualifier in Winter Park.
Steamboat will also send a strong contingent of J-3 racers ( between the ages of 13-14) to a championship which will be held in Winter Park. Those skiers qualified to race in those events based on finishes here in Steamboat Springs Feb. 17-18 on two other qualifing events.
The top seed will be Steamboat's Marsh Gooding. He is followed in order by teammates Peter Zimmer, Thomas Allen and Andrew Zopf. Kevin Dombey also made the cut at will fill the No.19 slot in the region.
Jenna Cesolini will be the top girls from Steamboat Springs with the No.2 rank in the region. She will be joined by Tina Roberts (No. 4), Stacy Cavanaugh (No.10), Shannon Gormley (No. 21) and Christine Callahan (No. 22).
Katie Conrath, who missed a qualifier earlier this season because of illness, is on the bubble and could make the Junior Olympics cut at the Council Cup, which is scheduled for the first week of March. Other skiers who will be vying for last-chance spots will be Mikkel Simopoes-Correia.
"We have 14 athletes on the team this year, so we have a good percentage going on to the championships," assistant coach Aaron Haffey said. Haffey works under the programs head coach Linus Vaitkus.
"I think it's about 95 percent and I think we will pick a couple more up at the Council Cup," Haffey said.
Haffey said the large number of Steamboat skiers who will be skiing at the event is a sign of just how strong this team really is. He is expecting the local skiers to continue to flex their muscles at the championships.
"I told my guys that I want five podiums," Haffey said. "There are five different races so I don't think that will be too difficult."
The young racers in both championships will compete in downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom. There will also be a chance to place in an overall competition in which the best skier in all events is crowned champ.
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