Brownson attacks pitch for fourth
KEYSTONE – Only 14, but with an attacking skiing style befitting of her mythological first name, Vail Mountain School freshman Athena Brownson turned in her best result of her first high school skiing season when it counted most Friday in the state giant slalom.After Summit junior Katie Hartman was disqualified for missing a gate on her second run, Brownson, who lives in Breckenridge but commutes to VMS, ended up with a fourth-place finish for her two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 31.61 seconds. “I just went for it, and it went really well,” Brownson said about both of her runs on the steep, technical Go Devil course. “Basically, I just took a really aggressive line and skied as fast as I could. I nailed the top section and did pretty well down here. Definitely some nerves going on, but it wasn’t bad at all. I think that kind of fueled me.”Gore Rangers alpine coach Kristen Luckenbill said she wasn’t surprised by her freshman’s top-10 finish, despite Browning having not competed in a lot of the high school races this season because she’s been traveling with the Summit-based Quantum Sports Team.”She’s been skiing really well lately,” Luckenbill said. “She just got back from Europe and had a lot of confidence. I think confidence can get you a few more seconds in ski racing. It’s the kind of course today, with a pretty steep hill and two steep pitches, where confidence can get you pretty far.” Aspen’s Jenny Hearn won state gold with her time of 2:25:15. Evergreen’s Suz Larson (2:27.69) and Steamboat Springs’ Priska Sorenson (2:28.73) rounded out the top three.
Hartman, who was visibly upset in the finish corral after the gaffe in her second run, would have taken silver had she not missed the gate. The only other local top-10 finisher in Friday’s boys and girls alpine races was Battle Mountain’s Andrea Knight who finished ninth with a combined time of 2:36.46.Knight, a senior who has started taking college courses at Johnson and Wales in Denver, but has kept her prep eligibility this season because she has one credit remaining at Battle Mountain, said a long commute up from the Front Range put her in the right mood to ski.”I was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half,” she said. “I didn’t even have time to warm up. I got up to the start gate and they were on the 20s and I ran 40th. It was just, ‘Put your bib on and go.’ I think it actually worked better, because I had no time to think about it.””I mean, she’s got experience,” Huskies alpine coach Simon Marsh added. “She almost missed her start, didn’t inspect, and came in and had a smoking time. She really ripped it. Then, in the second run she really calmed her nerves and put down a great run.”Battle Mountain’s Kelly VanHee cracked the top 20 (19th, 2:40.00), the Huskies’ Jamie Roberts (2:40.16) was 22nd and Eagle Valley’s Nicole Luczkow (28th, 2:43.38) and Hanna Nelson (30th, 2:43.90) also finished in the top 30. Of the local boys finishers, Eagle Valley senior Kyle Green had the best result with his combined time of 2:28.41 – good for 24th place. Drew Riley of VMS finished 27th at 2:28.73 and Battle Mountain’s Kyle Bruntz was 31st at 2:32.49.
“I think I could have done a little better,” Green said. “I could have pushed myself a little more. It was the longest course I think I’ve raced on my whole high school career. Despite being that long and steep and technical, I don’t think it really affected my skiing that much.””Three in the top 30 is pretty good,” added Devils’ alpine coach Cappie Green. “I’m pretty happy with that.”Chris Brandl (34th, 2:36.10) and Bo Lowe (35th, 2:36.19) were the other two Eagle Valley finishers.Other local finishersThe remaining finishers for the Battle Mountain girls were Josie Sutner (32nd, 2:45.09); Rolena Richardson (35th, 2:46.82); Kate VanHee (36th, 2:47.24); Heidi Moore (43rd, 2:50.46), Jenna Hughes (44th, 2:51.03) and Paige Bennett (46th, 2:52.50). For the VMS girls, Joely Denkinger was 33rd with a time of 2:46.51, followed by Lucy Sackbauer (37th, 2:48.94) and Katie Wear (38th, 2:48.95).
The remaining boys finishers for VMS were Chris Woods (38th, 2:57.31); Mick Seeman (41st, 2:38.24) and David Deline (46th, 2:39.87)Bart Cuomo (44th, 2:39.29) and Grant Stevenson (56th, 2:47.83) were the other two finishers for the Huskies boys.Armstrong, Taylor earn silverVMS Nordic standouts Haleigh Armstrong and Sheldon Taylor expected to earn medals in Friday’s freestyle race at Gold Run in Breckenridge.Those expectations were met for both. Armstrong, with a time of 16:17.8, finished as the state runner-up behind Summit’s Brittany Perkins (16:02.04). Taylor earned a silver medal of his own with his final time of 13:59.5, 0.99 seconds off the pace of Steamboat Springs’ Mike Gleason.”It was a hard course, but it went by faster than I thought it would,” Armstrong said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of rest. The gradual downhills, you could still skate on those, and then it was mainly gradual uphills. It was tough.”
Brad Bingham also cracked the top 10 for the VMS boys with his time of 15:07.7, good for 10th.Taylor, a senior, said he was nervous at the start of what was to be his last high school freestyle race.”Definitely,” he said. “I haven’t gotten exactly used to (state) yet. It was definitely a good race, though. I think I was pretty good all the way through. I didn’t have any mistakes.”Battle Mountain senior Grant Stevenson finished 11th in the boys freestyle race.”This course, we’ve skied it a few times before through my years racing and it’s a great course,” Stevenson said. “It’s a lot of fun. I could have done better in alpine, but my Nordic race made up for it.”Vail Mountain School’s Bobby LeGaye was the only other local boy to crack the top 30. LeGaye finished 14th with a time 15:31.1.For the local girls, Vail Mountain School’s Courtney Robinson finished 12th with a time of 18:26.2; Eagle Valley’s Jill Ewing was 15th in 18:36.4; Vail Mountain School’s Maddie Sullivan finished 18th in 19:01.0; Battle Mountain’s Jane Lettaskva was 19th in 19:02.03; Vail Mountain School’s Elsie Macsata was 24th in 19:25.4; and Battle Mountain’s Molly McGee (19:40.8) and Michelle Hiland (19:41.4) were 27th and 28th, respectively.
“The girls skied fairly well all the way around,” VMS coach Dan Weiland said. “Boys were good, too. For us, our goal all year was to go to Junior Nationals and qualify as many kids for that. Unfortunately, state skiing comes second for us, for better or for worse. We’re skiing so much better, that it just makes sense for us to go to those junior national qualifiers and make a team there.”Team ResultsAfter the first day of competition, Summit, despite losing Hartman to disqualification in GS, still tallied the most overall team points with 658. Aspen was a distant second with 636, followed by Steamboat Springs with 619. VMS was fifth behind Middle Park with 550 points, followed by Battle Mountain in sixth with 483 and then Eagle Valley in seventh with 350.Staff Writer Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at email@example.com.Vail, Colorado