Battle Mountain’s O’Brien, Strong win slalom at Beaver Creek
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” The high school boys slalom race at Beaver Creek on Friday turned into an uphill battle.
Nearly all the leaders after the first run spent time hiking up the course on their second run to get around missed gates. Apparently, Battle Mountain’s Cannon O’Brien was a mountain climber in his previous life. He quickly scrambled around the gates to edge the field and claim first.
“I was a second out (after the first run), so I had to lay down a run to win,” O’Brien said. “I hiked up the delay, but all the top guys did. In this race, the fastest hiker won.”
The leaders found trouble on the “delay” section of the run down Bear Trap. Battle Mountain’s Zach Ziolkowski ” who finished second ” said most racers made of the mistake of taking too much speed into the toughest portion of the course.
“The course was tight,” Ziolkowski said. “Nobody was really expecting it. We were going faster than we thought, and the gates got closer and closer.”
Vail Mountain’s Charlie Grant owes his meticulous inspection for spurring his impressive run to third place. Grant clocked the fastest time of any skier on the second run.
“(Inspection) was really key,” Grant said. “I inspected twice. It lets me know where I can go straight, and where I need to slow down.”
Battle Mountain’s strong day included top-10 finishes from Davey DeChant (fourth), Colby Childers (sixth) and Christoph Neiderhauser (10th). VMS’ John McKenna took fifth for the Gore Rangers.
Two-way battle for first
Unlike the boys, the girls had little trouble going straight downhill. A strong competition became a race for first between Liz Strong and Celine Guilmineau.
Strong topped the field with a combined time of 1 minute, 33.82 seconds. Guilmineau came in second with a time of 1:35.69.
“In the first run for the girls, it was a very technical course,” Battle Mountain coach Simon Marsh said. “They really had to focus. (Liz and Celine) really played it smart over the roll. They really nailed it.”
Vail Mountain’s Kim Newton went all-out on her second run to finish in third place.
“I just thought I may as well point (my skis) down the hill and see how well I do,” Newton said.
Eva Spaeh, another Gore Ranger, took fourth place. Four Battle Mountain skiers joined Strong in the top 10. The Huskies’ Anne Strong (fifth), Annie Talbot (sixth), Rebecca Hughes (seventh) and Carrie Wild (eighth) all did well.
Marsh was particular happy with Wild and Hughes’ runs that likely qualified them for the state meet later this year.
“Carrie just stepped up out of nowhere,” Marsh said. “She has made great strides.”
Eagle Valley’s Rachel Landin ran a strong race to finish in ninth place for the Devils.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.