Shipley chases his heroes

Buddy Werner fan wins Junior Olympics super-G

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— Local ski racer Lane Shipley knew he was a winner even before he crossed the finish line of Thursday's super-G race.

"It didn't matter where I finished," Shipley said after the event. "I knew it was a good run. I crashed in all five events last year, so it was nice just to lay down a good run and to finish."

In fact, Shipley's run was good enough to win the first event of the Chevy Trucks J-4 Junior Olympic Championships, which continue in Steamboat Springs all week.

Shipley finished the course in a time of 54.22 seconds. Summit County racer Taylor Vest-Burton was second at 54.39 and Conrad Schmidt, of the Quantum Ski Club, placed third with a time 54.53.

Shipley felt as if his best chance to medal at these Junior Olympics was in the super-G. But he said he didn't put any pressure on himself to win or even finish the race standing up. He decided to focus on skiing and having fun long before he left the start gate at the top of the Sitz/See Me ski run.

"I wasn't concerned about the results," he said.

Another legendary skier, Buddy Werner, may have influenced Shipley's attitude. Werner died in an avalanche back in 1964, but Shipley's family has always been close to the Werner clan, and the young ski racer learned about Buddy through the stories of other family members.

Up until a few years ago, it wasn't uncommon for Shipley to leave class after the final bell and head to the home of Doak and Skeeter Walker for a chance to hear stories about Buddy, Skeeter and Loris. Shipley also liked to hear a tale or two about Skeeter's husband Doak a Heisman trophy winner and former professional football player.

"I would go straight from school to her house and then my mom would pick me up there after work," Shipley said. "Hazie was like a grandmother to me."

Shipley took a particular interest in Buddy after reading the book "I Never Look Back." Shipley said Skeeter gave him one of Buddy's old medals when he was 6 and he used to carry it in his pocket until a few years ago.

Now the 13-year-old racer will have a trophy of his own to set beside Werner's old medal.

Shipley hopes to follow in the footsteps of skiers like Buddy Werner and has hopes of skiing at the Olympics.

"There are a lot of flags in this room (Olympian Hall), but I think there is room for one more," Shipley said.

"I would love to ski in the Olympics someday."

Other top finishers in the men's race on Thursday included Taylor Coe in 11th at 55.76, Dylan Roberts in 13th at 56.07, Ramsey Bernard in 24th at 57.16 and Wiley Thayer in 30th at 62.69. Jace Wirth finished in 49th place at 58.65.

Madison Shepard of the Timber Ridge Ski Club won the women's race in a time of 55.77.

She topped second-place finisher Johannah Olson of the Sports Hut Ski Club and third-place finisher Sunnie Elliott of Team Summit.

The top Steamboat finisher was Priska Sorensen in 10th place at 57.69. Steamboat's Jennifer Allen was 21st (59.31), Lauren Letson was 23rd (59.52) and Annamarie Anderson was 37th (1:01.20).

The Junior Olympics will continue today with the giant slalom race on Sitz/See Me. The girls race will start at 8:45 with the first run. The boys will follow at 10:05.

The second runs will begin with the girls at noon and the boys at 1:30 p.m.

The J-4 championships are for racers 11-12 years of age who qualified in races held earlier this season.

The event will come to a close on Saturday with slalom races at Howelsen Hill.

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