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For Huskies, slalom down with state to go

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado

WINTER PARK ” With three wins in four races, you’d think the Battle Mountain girls ski team didn’t have a lot to prove Friday at Winter Park.

That is unless you count the one blemish on the Huskies’ resume ” the second-place finish in a slalom at Beaver Creek.

Battle Mountain didn’t leave anything to chance this time, dominating the Winter Park slalom for its first win in the discipline this season. Jenny Banner, in her second race of the season, moved up three spots in her second run to win the race in a combined time of 1 minute, 34 seconds. One spot behind Banner was Kelly VanHee, who won the Beaver Creek race. Jamie Lee Roberts was seventh, and while her score would have counted on any team but her own, Annie Talbot was eighth, just 0.10 behind Roberts. Jana Weiss, in 15th, would have scored on all but one team other than Battle Mountain. Only the top three racers score points.



“Jenny won the second run by almost two seconds, and she wasn’t wearing a racing suit, so that’s pretty impressive,” Battle Mountain coach Simon Marsh said. “The girls did great. They had been training a lot of slalom last week, and it really got them into the groove.”

VanHee, who was first told she placed second, then third, and finall second again when the official results came out late Monday, is amazed at how well the entire team is doing.



“Everyone is skiing really well. It’s been our most successful year on the girls side since I’ve been on the team,” said the senior, who thinks her team has a good shot going into state championships in two weeks. “We have the potential to do it, the skiers to do it and the heart to do it.”

For good measure, the Huskies had two more girls in the top 30 Friday ” Anna Schmidt in 25th and Brianna Johnson in 30th ” and three more in the top 37.

The two other Eagle County girls teams brought back season-best results, with Vail Mountain in fourth and Eagle Valley fifth.



Lucky Sackbauer had a career-best sixth-place finish to lead the Gore Rangers, while teammate Joely Denkinger followed up her success from last race with another top finish in 12th. Taylor Campbell was 26th, while Axie Navas was 33rd ” the last state-qualifying spot (the top 45 percent of finishers qualify).

“Joely and I were really happy we finished well because we didn’t finish the last (slalom) where we would have liked,” Sackbauer said.

Sackbauer used a more conservative race strategy, which paid off.

“In training, I hadn’t been finishing any of the practice course runs, and I was going all out and taking it too straight,” she said. “I guess I pulled it together and put it in my head that I had to qualify.”

Eagle Valley’s Nicole Luczkow led her team in 14th.

“That was the first time I’ve placed in the top 15 since I was a freshman,” the senior said. “We’ve been training pretty hard, and that’s helped me out a lot. Fifth (as a team) was exciting. Our team has been motivated and getting good feedback from our coaches.”

Rachel Landin was 20th for the Devils, with Katie Brandes in 28th and Terrin Kinser qualifying for state in 31st.

After a two-year absence from racing, Axel Spaeh is back.

The Vail Mountain senior, who hurt his knee sophomore year and had surgery the following year, led his team in 14th.

“It was a matter of getting back into the gates,” said Spaeh, who just started skiing again in December. “I’m really excited about the way everything is going because I haven’t been on snow for so long. It’s great to see (the work) pay off. In the past, I did mostly club racing and I was normally in the back of the pack, and I think with the high school races it’s a different type of training, and I feel it suits me a little better.”

With Sean Woods in 24th and Charlie Grant in 36th, the Gore Rangers placed sixth, one spot behind Battle Mountain.

The Huskies saw Christoph Neiderhauser collect the top local finish in 13th. Davey DeChant was 20th, one spot ahead of teammate Ike Sheppard. J.T. Schmidt (29th) Luke Rasmussen (32nd), Zachary Ziolkowski (35th) and Colby Childers (38) all had state-qualifying times.

Eagle Valley’s Cody Coulter had his first career top-20 result to lead his team to a seventh-place finish.

“It feels pretty good to get into the top 20,” Coulter said. “I thought I could have done it at (a giant slalom in) Aspen with my first run, but my second didn’t go as well.”

Griffin Turnipseed made the cut in 33rd, while Jamison Bair rounded out the scoring in 42nd.

Vail Christian’s Corey Seemann strung together two solid runs to take 15th, yet another top finish. Ian Hamina (59th) and Matthew Myers (66th) also scored for Vail Christian.

The teams close out the regular season with a slalom in Loveland on Friday.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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