Ski & Snowboard Club Vail racers earn spots on U16 national team | VailDaily.com

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail racers earn spots on U16 national team

VAIL — A national team of ski racers ages 14 and 15 which the United States will send to Europe next month will contain a large representation of local athletes.

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail learned this week that the results of their dominant performance in the U-16 National Performance Series – which wrapped up on Friday – have qualified five of the six girls from the U.S. and two of the six boys to compete in Europe next month, representing the U.S. at the Seven Nations Cup.

"The Seven Nations Cup is the biggest and most significant youth race in Europe," National Training Group U16 Head Coach John Cashman told the United States Ski and Snowboard Association before their trip last year. "It will be great international experience for our U16 athletes to see just how they are stacking up with the best U16s in Europe and how we are doing as a country developmentally with our younger athletes."

FROM U.S. TO AUSTRIA

The Seven Nations Cup will take place in Austria Feb. 6-19. The seven countries participating are the nations known around the world for churning out the top ski racers on the planet, and each of those seven countries will send their top six boys and top six girls ages 14 and 15 to compete.

It's the next step in competition for U.S. ski racers under 16 years of age who, in order to make it to the Seven Nations Cup, had to first qualify to compete in the National Performance Series by skiing well at U-16 Nationals last year, then ski well in the National Performance Series, which consisted of slalom and giant slalom races at nearby Copper Mountain in December and Burke Mountain in Vermont this week. The National Performance Series allowed racers from the Rocky Mountain Region to see how well they compete head-to-head against racers from other regions of the U.S. The Seven Nations Cup will be similar test against ski racers their age from around the world.

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"Just like we took of the best kids in the nation and got them together and a head to head race at the National Performance Series, the Seven Nations Cup does that on the world stage," said Ski & Snowboard Club Vail U-16 girls coach Michael Fairbrother. "So the next step is to expose our kids to Europe, the conditions and the culture over there, go head to head against our world competition and just see where we really stand."

'SWEPT THE FIRST THREE PODIUMS'

The fact that so many of the U-16 national squad athletes come from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, especially on the girls' side, didn't come as much of a surprise to Fairbrother when it was announced on Friday.

In the National Performance Series, "we swept the first three podiums – the GS at Copper and both the slaloms at Burke – and then had another podium today," Fairbrother said Friday as the National Performance Series was wrapping up. "That's 10 of 12 total podiums for the girls in the National Performance Series. We also took a good chunk of the boys results."

The girls from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail who qualified for the Seven Nations Cup include Berit Frischholz, Kaitlyn Harsch, Allie Resnick, Caroline Jones and Cleo Braun. Isabelle Jenne from the Killington Mountain School ski club rounds out the team. On the boys' side, local racers include Zane Worrell and Kellan Kinsella. Nico Richeda, a Steamboat athlete who competed with the Rocky Mountain division athletes at the National Performance Series, also qualified along with Jackson Jewell of Killington Mountain School, Alex Abdow of Stratton Mountain School, and Patrick Coughlin of Burke Mountain Academy.

"All of these kids definitely had a great experience on the ice and they definitely grew on this trip, as athletes and teammates," Fairbrother said of the National Performance Series in Vermont. "It's just a really good step in the right direction for their careers. That's the whole big picture – is it supposed to be a learning experience, performing under pressure and performing at the national level, and now we're going to take the next step and do it globally."