Steamboat Springs James Schindler had no expectations when he stepped into the starting gate Friday for the first of four races in the Millennium Bank Colorado Junior FIS Ski Cup Championships in Steamboat Springs.
But by Monday morning, it was clear to the men’s field of more than 80 racers that the Steamboat Springs Alpine ski racer was the one everybody, including his own teammates, was chasing.
“This is the first time I’ve ever won four races in a row,” Schindler said. “ At the beginning of the weekend, I didn’t expect it, but as things unfolded, I started to feel pretty good.”
Schindler wrapped up the four-day race series by capturing the final slalom race Monday morning on the slopes of Howelsen Hill. His two-run combined time of 1 minute, 14.10 seconds was the best in the field of top junior racers.
Schindler said he tried to lay down a fast first run in each of the four starts at the junior championships, and then he tried to hold the advantage through the second run. But it was his ability to survive a tricky second run that proved to be the difference in Monday’s race.
“There were some pretty big turns that seemed to come out of nowhere,” Schindler said. “It was pretty good for me, but there were some places on the top where I had to scrub some speed. I was worried, but it all worked out.”
The fact is that it worked out pretty well for most of the local racers in Monday’s event. Including Schindler’s finish, Steamboat collected the four top spots in the race. Teammate Ryan McConnell placed second at 1:14.58, Scott Ptach was third at 1:14.70, and Sam Glaisher was fourth at 1:15.40. Brant Crossan finished just out of the top 10 in 12th place.
Aspen’s Katherine Ryan won Monday’s women’s race with a time of 1:24.38. Vail skier Mary Sackbauer was second, and her teammate Elizabeth Strong was third. Sarah White highlighted the Steamboat Winter Sports Club’s finishes with a seventh. Natalie Pearl was eighth. Other Steamboat finishers included Annie Ochs in 11th, Hannah Young in 12th and Ciar Colgan in 16th.
Before the start of last week’s Colorado Junior FIS Championships, Deb Armstrong, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s competitive Alpine director, sent out an e-mail with a simple message to the top skiers in her program.
“Our hill, our championships. Let’s own it,” Armstrong wrote.
And after four days of skiing, Armstrong said she could not be happier with the way her team responded.
“I’m so proud of these ski racers and the way they performed this weekend,” Armstrong said. “My goal was for them to score points, and they came through in a big way.”
The Steamboat skiers’ finishes in Monday’s events reflected a strong showing for the program. The Steamboat athletes also skied well in a pair of giant slalom races during the weekend, and the opening slalom race March 19.
Top finishers in Sunday’s men’s giant slalom included Schindler in first place. Steamboat’s Jimmy Hostetler was second, and central division skier Billy Wong was third. Steamboat collected five spots in the top 10 with Glaisher placing fifth, McConnell placing sixth and Ptach placing seventh.
Breckenridge’s Leah Canfield topped the women’s field in Sunday’s giant slalom. Vail’s Kaytlyn Samuelson was second, and Steamboat’s Colgan stepped onto the podium with a third. Steamboat’s Young was 12th, and Pearl was 15th.
Steamboat men also dominated Saturday’s giant slalom race with Schindler winning, Glaisher finishing fourth and Hostetler in fifth. Tyler Theis was 11th.
On the women’s side, Vail’s Anne Strong topped the field. Canfield was second, and Colgan was third. Steamboat’s Leah Scott was 12th, Young was 13th, and Pearl was 14th.
The Steamboat men claimed four of the top five spots in the opening slalom Friday. Schindler won the race and was followed by McConnell in second, Ptach in third and Theis in fourth. Crossan was sixth.
Anne Strong won the women’s race, followed by Winter Park’s Rylee Burrows in second and Elizabeth Strong in third. Colgan was the top Steamboat finisher in the race, placing sixth. Teammate Katie Hostetler was seventh, White was eighth and Pearl was ninth.