Ankeny holds on to take giant slalom |

Ankeny holds on to take giant slalom

Ian Cropp
JO Hunter Schleper PU 3-10

VAIL – The Midwest may not be known for its snow-covered mountains, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good skiers there. Or at the Rocky Mountain/Central Junior Olympics, for that matter.Buck Hill, Minnesota’s Michael Ankeny put down the two best runs in Friday’s giant slalom at the J3 Rocky Mountain/Central Junior Olympics to finish in first place with a time of 1 minute, 39.16 seconds.Ankeny, whose home course has one quad chair, used a solid first run of 51.04 to take the lead and earn the 30th starting spot for the afternoon run.”I tried to ski it nice and smooth because my coach radioed up and told me that a lot of people were messing up, so I tried to be fluid and smooth, and it worked out,” Ankeny said.But Ankeny still had some work left.Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Hunter Schleper was only 0.31 seconds behind Ankeny after the first run.”I was thinking Schleper was gunning for it,” Ankeny said. “He’s a fast skier, and I just wanted to stay on top to take off the pressure for (today’s) slalom race. I messed up a little bit on the pitch and got pretty low, but down at the bottom, it just felt amazing.”

With a second run of 48.12, Ankeny secured his first podium of the week. Wednesday, he finished fifth in the super-G.”That’s pretty good, coming from the Midwest,” Ankeny said.Schleper had the second-fastest final run, and finished in second place (1:39.91) for his third podium in as many races.”I’m pretty happy, but I think I could have done better,” Schleper said. “It was just a bad day.”Steamboat Springs’ Max Marno followed up his super-G win on Wednesday with a third-place finish (1:40.57) Friday.”I skied consistently and I didn’t have many mess-ups,” Marno said.Jumping up

SSCV’s Kit Flowers sat in sixth place after his first run, but moved up two spots with his second run for his second top-five finish of the week.”My first run wasn’t as good as I would have liked, so I had nothing to lose in the second run, and I went for it,” Flowers said. “I was trying to go as fast as I could and make up as much time. If I made a mistake, I charged right back.” Flowers also had a course set catered more to his liking in the second run.”(The first) one was the tightest course ever,” Flowers said. “I think it was 1 meter longer than a slalom course. I’m not used to having it that tight.”Steamboat Springs’ Ryan McConnell’s first run (55.72) put him nearly out of the top 30, but he shaved off more than seven seconds in his final run to grab 10th. Ausblick’s Dylan Rogers leapfrogged from the No. 66 bib to a 14th-place finish, while Win Alpine Race Team’s Carter Marsh (No. 47 bib) took 12th.SSCV’s Connor Klein (34th), David Graebel (35th), J.D. Mobley (36th) and Andreas Calabrese (48th) each moved up from their starting positions. Cody Unicume had a good first run, but did not finish his second.

SlalomToday the boys and girls wrap up the Junior Olympics with the slalom.Ankeny is the defending boys’ slalom champion, but looks to win another podium for the Central skiers.With five podiums between them, Schleper and Marno may be up there again.”Usually it’s not one of my best events, and lately I’ve been doing well,” Marno said.On the girls’ side, Delainey Ackerman will be going for a sweep.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or, Colorado

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