Vagabond a perfect host for growing speedsters at U16 Regional Championships
March 12, 2014
Steamboat Springs — It's not Birds Of Prey, but that's a good thing.
The Rocky/Central U16 Regional Championships skied into its second day Wednesday under a bright sun and beautiful blue skies, roaring down Vagabond at Steamboat Ski Area for a super-G race that wasn't the fastest race in the nation, wasn't the most challenging, but, according to Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Alpine skiing director Deb Armstrong, was perfect.
"It's an absolute classic," Armstrong said about the ripping intermediate ski run that typically, during the heart of spring break, is clogged with a mix of speedy locals and grinning tourists.
"The technicality of the course perfectly suits this age group in their development for learning how to handle speed and learning how to handle terrain," she continued. "It was spectacular for these kids."
Wednesday showed a variety of approaches to the course suiting the wide variety of racers attacking it.
Some stayed tight in their tucks as they roared down the top section and over a small lip where the Surprise ski run drops away.
Others hit that same section and caught air — some big and wild, others careful and refined.
They took different approaches on the bulletproof lower sections of the course, as well, some aggressive, others safe.
River Radamus, with the U.S. Ski Team Training Academy, proved to have the right mix of daring and skill, winning the men's race with a time of 1 minute, 13.77 seconds.
Aspen's Tristan Lane was second in 1:14.60, and Vail skier Colby Lange was third at 1:17.19.
U.S. Training Academy skier Storm Klomhaus was tops for the women, finishing in 1:17.22. Teammate Galena Wardle was second in 1:19.41, and Vail's Lucia Bailey was third at 1:20.59.
Steamboat's top finish on the men's side came from Andrew McCawley, who was 21st. Jett Seymour wasn't far back, in 23rd, and Brittain Walton cut into the top 30 in 29th position.
Lauren Chavez had the Winter Sports Club's top overall finish on the day, sliding in eighth while Logan Sankey was ninth and Jazlyn Lynch was 25th.
Fast or slow, Armstrong said, the racers got an important workout on one of Steamboat Ski Area's main intermediate arteries.
"There are blind rollers that give the athletes a visual experience that can be intimidating, but there's not a lot of jeopardy," Armstrong said. "There's not a big air, and that's really important for these young speed skiers. They're just developing and learning speed skills, so you want these kids on a hill which creates anxiety, yet there's not disaster on the other side of a bump. They need to learn how to race, how to attack but still have it so when they get to the bottom of Vagabond, they think, 'Oh my gosh. There's nothing more fun in the world!'"
The next two days of action move to another ski area staple, the Sitz and See Me runs, for two days of giant slalom racing.