J3 racers look to build momentum

Skiers head to Telluride after Junior Olympic Championships

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— Ski coaches Ryan Roberts and Gladys Weidt joined a van full of Steamboat Springs Alpine skiers Thursday for a trip to Telluride for the SmartWool Championships.

The coaches hope the athletes will be able to build on results earlier this month at the J3 Junior Olympic Championships in Vail.

“These races are really about preparing for next year and making sure that the racers are in a good place in the standings as they head into next year,” said Rob Worrell, the head age class coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Worrell said he was pleased with the way the 13- and 14-year-old athletes in his program performed at the J3 Junior Olympic Championships, which were March 3 to 10 in Vail and Beaver Creek.

The Winter Sports Club had 12 athletes at the events, including first- and second-year J3 skiers. Worrell said the older skiers performed as expected, with several skiers finishing in the top five at the events. For the younger skiers, the championships were an eye-opener and a chance to gain experience they need to be competitive.

“At this level, a year can make a big difference,” Worrell said. “Our younger racers did well, and I expect that they will come back next year with a new sense of confidence and experience.”

Steamboat Springs ski racer Suzanne Lyon, who competed as an independent and not a member of the Winter Sports Club, highlighted the local finishes and reached the podium at third in the women’s slalom race March 10 in Beaver Creek. Winter Sports Club athlete Vreni Lupear was fourth, Serena Kidd was ninth, Kate Cooper placed 13th and Chandler Sedberry was 16th.

The Steamboat girls also enjoyed several top results in the women’s downhill race March 6, where Lyon was sixth, Lupear was fifth and Sedberry was 20th. Katie Arnis was 21st, Kate Cooper was 22nd, and Serena Kidd was 32nd.

The women moved to the super-G course March 7 in Vail, where Lupear was fifth, Lyon was sixth, Sedberry was 13th and Kidd came in 15th. Lupear’s fifth-place showing in the March 8 women’s giant slalom race was the best for the Steamboat racers. Lyon was 11th, Kidd was 12th, and Sedberry was 15th.

Two other Steamboat racers had top showings despite placing outside the top 20 in their races. Olivia Rudolf, who started the race in the 61st seed, moved up to 22nd in the final results of the slalom. Rudolf enjoyed similar jumps in the women’s giant slalom, where she moved from 67th to 36th, and the super-G, where she moved from 70th to 26th in the standings. After the events, Rudolf was awarded the women’s “Bibbo” jersey, which goes to the ski racer who makes the biggest improvement at the Junior Olympics. Vail’s Clayton Kirwood won the honor on the men’s side.

Rudolf’s teammate Arnis, who started as the 62nd seed in the slalom, also made an impressive jump, placing 40th in the final results of that event. Arnis also had solid showings in the super-G, where she finished 38th, and the women’s giant slalom, where she placed 40th.

Alex Barounos’ seventh in the men’s slalom and ninth in the giant slalom highlighted the Steamboat finishes for the guys. He also posted a 15th in the men’s downhill and an 18th in the super-G.

Worrell said Steamboat ski racer Keegan Millard also had an impressive showing in the men’s slalom, where he finished 12th despite starting well back in the pack in the 40th position. Millard was 17th in the men’s downhill and did not place in the top 50 of the men’s super-G or giant slalom.

Other notable finishes included Devin DeJong, who was 40th in the super-G, 61st in the downhill and 66th in the slalom; and David Kidd, who was 42nd in the slalom, 50th in the giant slalom, 55th in the super-G and 78th in the downhill. Andreas Foulk was 36th in the slalom, 50th in the super-G and 52nd in the giant slalom, and Nate Bowman was 53rd in the giant slalom, 54th in the super-G and 76th in the downhill.

Worrell said the racers plan to wrap up the season with this weekend’s races in Telluride, and a couple of other starts before the annual Loveland Derby, which is scheduled for April 17 and 18.

“The events in Loveland are the traditional close to the Alpine ski racing season,” Worrell said.

Worrell said those races are huge and are a chance for younger racers to earn USSA points.

“Those races normally draw a field of 600 racers,” Worrell said. “It’s a fun way to end the season.”

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