Clean Vail sweep: Conor McDonald wins slalom |

Clean Vail sweep: Conor McDonald wins slalom

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado
SPT JOS Paula Moltzan DT 3-15-08

VAIL, Colorado Swedish skier Anja Paerson may have cornered the market on the belly flop celebration, but Team Summit skier Conor McDonald has a trick of his own: the worm turn.McDonald, whose performance at the J3 Rocky/Central Junior Olympics in Vail this week mimicked that of Paersons at last years World Alpine Ski Championships, waited until the final race to display what may soon become a trademark victory move.Entering Saturdays slalom, McDonald had already won the downhill, super-G and giant slalom. After his first run, McDonald led by 1.34 seconds and he didnt let up one bit on his second pass. As he crossed the finish line at Golden Peak, McDonald went down on his side, rolled over twice and popped back up to his feet.I was thinking about doing a 180 after the last gate and skiing switch through the finish, but you known what, thats a little risky, McDonald said. I wanted to finish strong. But I said, What the heck, Ill throw it down.While the verdict is still out as to how McDonalds celebration move compares to that of Paersons, his clean sweep is reminiscent of when Paerson won three of four races during the world championships last year in Are, Sweden.I had a fun time and skied well, and we all had fun. Everyone is proud of their results, McDonald said. I knew in slalom I could have won because earlier this year we went to a time trial with the top 20 kids in the region and I had been winning by 2 seconds. The super-G I felt good because I did well in the qualifiers. Downhill I was a little nervous because Mick (Osmundson) had won all the other downhills. He made me step up my game on the downhill. And GS has been up and down for me all year.McDonald finished Saturdays race in 1 minute, 31.99 seconds, while Ross Baker was second at 1:34.41. Steamboats Thomas Lyon was 0.15 behind Baker in third.I did this pretty much for my coach, Lyon said. Hes a diabetic and had really low blood sugar and almost went into diabetic shock (Friday). He told us to kick (butt) today. So this was for him.With three wins and a large lead, McDonald could have cruised through the final run, but had no intention of laying down a sub-standard time.My coach and I, we make bets. We pick a time and say that I want to beat everyone by 2 second, and if I dont I have to hike the hill or something, he said.There was one racer Ski & Snowboard Clubs Sean McCormick who didnt care by how much McDonald won; he just wanted McDonald to win. McCormick, who was second in the downhill and super-G and third in the giant slalom, didnt finish his first run Saturday and needed McDonald to win the race to assure him a spot at the Whistler Cup next month. The winners of the super-G, giant slalom and slalom are awarded spots at the Whistler Cup, but since McDonald won all the races, cumulative finishes among other racers determined who would receive the other two spots.After McDonald won Saturday, McCormick breathed a sigh of relief.Im feeling good, McCormick said, nearly out of breath. Im just going to go give (Conor) a big hug).Summits Kegan Zorens also qualified for Whistler.

When she picked up her second win of the week in Saturdays slalom, Buck Hills Paula Moltzan may have set a pretty high standard for herself. After all, the first-year J3 still has another shot at more J3 Junior Olympic titles.Im excited, she said. Ive got next year, too.Moltzan, who won Thursdays giant slalom, was in second place after her first run Saturday and trailed SSCVs Greta Byrne by 0.45 seconds. Byrne missed a gate on her second run and Moltzans combined time of 1:34.72 was plenty to secure her second win. SSCVs Jessica Delacenserie was second at 1:37.18, while Buck Hills Madeline Wiltgen was third at 1:38.13.It felt good to finish, Delacenserie said. Second place doesnt get me to Whistler, which is my goal. Im happy I finished, but (second) is as good as 30th. But Im happy I didnt give up after three day of crashing.Byrne, who won the downhill and super-G, will be going to Whistler with Moltzan and SSCVs Kaytlyn Samuelson, who was fourth Saturday.Its awesome. To have three kids make Whistler Cup out of our program says something, said SSCV coach J.J. Jensen. Its what all those kids work for this year. It was great for the Rocky Division, too five kids made it.SSCVs Celine Guilmineau (13th) and Katherine Irwin (20th) were in the top 20, while on the boys side, Christoph Niederhauser was 18th.All of our kids skied really well, Jensen said.

Friday, despite nearly a foot of new snow, the boys were able to race the giant slalom on a perfect pitch, nonetheless.We were on the hill just shortly after 3 a.m., Jensen said. Vail Resorts send five snowcats out. We spent at least two hours pushing snow off the hill. Without Vail Resorts, yesterdays race wouldnt have gone off.Summit went 1-2, with McDonald winning and Zorens in second. McCormick was third, while teammate Zachary Ziolkowski took sixth. SSCVs Dan Graebel and Nick Braun were 11th and 12th, respectively, while Niederhauser was 20th.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or

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