Junior championships open with thrilling downhill race on Vagabond
March 11, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Alpine ski racer Andrew McCawley prefers the slalom.
So when he stepped into the starting gate of Tuesday's downhill on Vagabond, the Steamboat Springs skier wanted to ski well but didn't have any lofty expectations for his finish on the first competitive day of the Rocky/Central U16 Regional Championships.
But as the local skier made his way down the course through a steady driving snow along with some tricky conditions caused by the weather, he wasn't worried about where he would finish. He just focused on what he does best.
When McCawley reached the finish line, he found himself within reach of the top skiers in the race and sitting in fifth place overall. A few late surprises dropped him to eighth in the final results, but McCawley wasn't complaining.
"I didn't have any expectations for this race," he said. "This is my highest finish at a junior championship and one of the best downhill races."
Aspen's Tristan Lane won the downhill race earning the first title in the Junior Regional Championships, with a time of 1 minute, 10.55 seconds. River Radamus placed second, and Ski Club Vail's Jack Keane finished in third.
McCawley's eighth-place finish was the top result for a Winter Sports Club racer in the downhill. His teammate Will McConnell was 26th, Jett Seymour was 27th and Brittain Walton was 30th in the boys race. Sam Frackowiak moved from a 56th place start to 39th, and Channing Conner moved from 50th to 46th in the final standings.
"The weather made this a very difficult course," Winter Sports Club coach Deb Armstrong said. "It took a herculean effort from the athletes, coaches, volunteers and parents just to get this race course in shape. I think a lot of people expected us to cancel this race, but we pulled together and got it done. Not only did we get it done, but it turned out to be a really good race."
But it wasn't the race that Armstrong expected for the Winter Sports Club girls after a week of strong showings in training runs.
"We had a better day yesterday than we did today, but sometimes, that's how it goes in ski racing," Armstrong said.
Logan Sankey led the Winter Sports Club racers with a 12th-place finish, and other top finishers included Lauren Chavez in 17th, Meg Anderson in 24th, Sierra Good in 36th, Madeline Boucher in 44th and Sawyer Gander in 45th.
Storm Klomhaus, a member of the U.S. Ski Team Academy, topped the field with a time of 1 minute, 13.12 seconds. She was followed by teammate Galena Wardle in second and Aspen's Hanna Mass in third.
The biggest move by a Steamboat Springs racer came from Anderson, who is hoping to make some noise in her final U16 championships. She moved from a 54th starting position to 24th in the final results putting her in the running for the bibo award that goes to the skier who improves the most during the championships.
"I was psyched," Anderson said. "This has to be one of my best finishes in the downhill, ever."
Anderson said she stayed relaxed before her turn on the course and knew that the other racers would be nervous about the course conditions.
"We train here all the time, and we know this hill," Anderson said.
While she was relaxed, Anderson admits that she was ready for the opening competition day of the championships.
"It finally all came together," Anderson said. "We've trained, we've watched film and we've inspected and inspected. I was ready to race, and it felt good to get out there today."
Anderson will not have to wait long for another shot in the super-G, but she admits that it's not her favorite event of the week. The boys and girls again will race starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on Vagabond.