There are a lot of important elements to a successful super-G race.
A good, arced turn is important. A thorough inspection of the race course is critical.
But there’s nothing more essential than managing the fear, and on Thursday during the first day of the J4, 11- and 12-year-old, Alpine skiing Junior Nationals in Steamboat Springs, the day’s best skiers said it was their ability to adapt to life on the edge that made the difference.
Brendan Keane, skiing for Ski Club Vail, was the boy’s champion, torching the Sitz/See Me course in 54.92 seconds, well faster than anyone else on yet another sunny, spring-like day at Steamboat Ski Area.
Vail’s Colby Lange was second, in at 55.37, and Cooper Cornelius, from Sunlight, was third at 55.64.
Sam Frackowiak, 28th, was Steamboat’s top skier, finishing in 1 minute, 0.97 seconds.
“I made a few bobbles out there, but I pulled it all together, and that was the run of my life,” Brendan said.
Brendan was one of the first racers out of the gate Thursday, hitting the course before the sun softened it up. That made the dive down the steep terrain scarier, he admitted. It also made it faster.
“I knew I had a good run from myself, but I can never tell if it’s going to win because all of my competitors are so good,” he said. “It was a really great course with a lot of swinging back and forth. It was technical and gave it to the kids who could really arc it.”
Nellie Rose Talbot, another Vail skier, similarly was able to shelve the fear inherent in a point-’em-as-straight-as-possible dash down the mountain.
She won her race, finishing in 58.77. Kaitlyn Vesterstein was second in 59.40 and Haley Frischholz was third at 1:00.43.
“Last year, I was here and I remember thinking how when I came back, my goal was to win,” said Nellie Rose, 12th in the same event a year ago. “It felt really good when I came down and the announcer said, ‘And in with a blazing time of…’”
Kristina Steinberg was eighth among the girls to account for Steamboat’s top finish of the day. She finished in 1:01.79, pointing to her home-hill advantage as a big reason why.
“It was soft out there, which was nice,” Kristina said. I liked the snow conditions. I’m from Steamboat. We like soft snow.”
It wasn’t the only reason, though. To train for eye-popping experience a super-G race can be, she and her teammates went off the smaller ski jumps at Howelsen Hill, and even cut down the landing zones of the bigger jumps, ensuring that when the big races came, they were comfortable with that kind of speed and with that kind of fear.
“We have a really steep hill to race, and it’s just unique,” she said. “The course can be really scary, but it’s really fun.”
Steamboat also picked up a strong finish from Mackenzie Ward, who was 13th. Teammate Margaret Dickson finished right behind her, in 14th, and was recognized in the post-race awards for notching the biggest improvement from her seed. She came in 76th and jumped 62 racers.
Amber Elliott was 44th for Steamboat, and Delaney Pratt was 59th. On the boys side, Trey Seymour was 32nd and Chase Seymour was 46th.
The J4 action at the ski area resumes Friday with giant slalom races, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com