Five freestylers to Junior Olympics
VAIL – The famous last name shouldn’t detract from the amazing accomplishment.Heidi Kloser, the 12-year-old daughter of Vail’s Mike Kloser, one of the word’s best adventure racers, is the youngest athlete competing at the U.S. Freestyle Junior Olympics in Park City, Utah, this week.Kloser’s name heads up the list of the five Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athletes competing in the event, which starts Thursday with men’s and women’s halfpipe competitions.Single-run moguls take place Friday for both men and women and duals are set for Sunday.The four other SSCV moguls skiers headed to Park City are Richard Dulude, 17, Matt Dillon, 16, Kelsey Teran, 18, and Alison Bathgate, 15.Freeskiing star John Spriggs, the only non-moguls freestyler from SSCV to qualify, won’t be competing in the halfpipe competition because he will be at another event.All athletes qualified for the Junior Olympics through regional competition in the Rocky Mountain Division of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association.Kloser, who qualified for both dual and single moguls, was recently named the RMD’s rookie of the year. This season, SSCV coaches moved her up to the junior level from the development level a year early because she was skiing at such a high level.”It’s exciting,” SSCV freestyle coach Brian Baker said. “For Heidi, in particular, just to have the experience of skiing at these events this early in her competitive career, is amazing. She’s just had a really great year. “Dulude, Dillon and Teran are competing in single moguls and Bathgate is competing in duals.
Baker said he expects Dulude, Kloser and Teran to post some solid results, but also mentioned that one can always expect the unexpected at a huge national event like Junior Olympics. March Madness doesn’t just apply to college hoops.”Richard certainly is a player in there in that top group and Kelsey and Heidi are both capable of posting big results,” he said. “I don’t know what they’ll end up doing. Everyone’s psyched. They’re psyched for JO’s because it’s a national level event for all the other divisions around the country. You’re kind of hoping to have everyone peaking for this event.”To go along with the Junior Olympics berths, Kloser and Teran have also qualified for Junior Nationals the following week in Park City. That event will pair the SSCV skiers against the best of the best – the stars of the U.S. Ski Team and the top crust of the junior field at Junior Olympics.Kloser qualified for duals at nationals and is an alternate for single-run moguls.Spriggs updateSpriggs, also known as “Big Bird” to his SSCV mates, is coming off a huge podium finish at the World Superpipe Championships in Park City Sunday.The invite-only event boasted a prize purse of $15,000 this year. Spriggs announced to the large crowd on hand that he would be a contender for some of the prize money with his second run in the three-run contest. He capped a squeaky clean run with a towering right-side 540 and then a 720. The judges awarded him a score of 76 out of a possible 100 points.His third run was the clincher.Spriggs, having already envisioned his run in his head, started with a tail-flat 540 followed by a right-side 540. He then unloaded a cork 900 which he followed with an unnatural flair. For the finale, Spriggs finished with a cork 1080.
The announcer at the event announced that the last trick was a 720, but Spriggs made sure the judges knew it was indeed a 1080. The run earned Spriggs a score of 83.3 which put him in a three-way tie for third and earned him a prize check of $1,000.J5s sweep podiums at SunlightWhile their older J3 counterparts were competing in Junior Olympics in Vail last weekend, eleven young ski racers from the SSCV Arc Force J5 team, ages 9-10, traveled to Sunlight outside Glenwood Springs to compete in the J5 regional finale in giant slalom and slalom.Sixty-seven girls and 115 boys from more than 15 different ski areas, including skiers from New Mexico and Arizona, were represented.Sunny skies and hard-packed natural snow provided excellent conditions. The Vail racers provided the excellent results.SSCV finished the competition with a total of nine medals – the most of any club at the event.”The kids worked so hard,” said coach Bret Snyder. Local Thomas Walsh topped the field with two gold medals in GS and one gold in slalom.
Walsh’s teammate Eva Spaeh won one gold in GS and a bronze in slalom.Spaeh’s gold in the second GS, with her time of 48.33 seconds, was also the fastest run laid down by any competitor in the event – boy or girl. At the J5 level, both boys and girls run the same courses. Walsh, who won the boys’ gold in the race, finished in 49.08.Also, Dylan Alverez won a silver in GS and a bronze medal in slalom and Katherine Irwin brought home a silver medal in GS. Other notable results came from Alex Leever, who finished fourth in a slalom; Kendall Van Hee who took a seventh in GS and a ninth in slalom; and Winston Heuga who placed 16th in slalom.Three J3s off to WhistlerJ3s Christa Ghent, Cody Unicume and Hunter Schleper each earned spots to the Whistler Cup in Whistler, British Columbia, last week for winning gold medals at this year’s J3 Junior Olympics. The Whistler Cup is an international FIS race similar to the Topolino race held in Trofeo, Italy. Ghent, Unicume and Schleper are three of the 18 racers from the U.S. who will compete in the event April 1-3.Staff Writer Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at email@example.com.Vail, Colorado