Huskies sweep giant slalom |

Huskies sweep giant slalom

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado

SKI COOPER, Colorado ” With four Summit County girls racers in the top 10, it’s almost a forgone conclusion that the Tigers won Friday’s giant slalom high school race at Cooper.

So when do a third-, fifth-, seventh- and eight-place finishes not cut it? When Battle Mountain is at the race.

The Huskies went 1-2-4 and had five in the top 13 to win their third giant slalom and sweep the regular season. Only the top three scores count for the team total.

“It’s awesome,” said Battle Mountain coach Simon Marsh. “We’ve had a lot of different racers contributing. We do have a core group of skiers, and I think they’ll represent us really well at state. We’re looking forward to our chances.”

Battle Mountain’s Marisa Ammaturo led the way, finishing in a combined time of 1 minute, 41.3 seconds, 0.30 ahead of teammate Jenny Banner. Jamie Lee Roberts was fourth.

After taking second in the previous race ” a slalom in Aspen ” Ammaturo stormed from the back of the pack Friday and finished with the top time on the first run and had the second-fastest final run.

“I was really confident I could do it,” Ammaturo said of the win. “I flew through (the course). It was flat, and the last time I skied there was 7 years ago.”

In her first race of the season, Banner delivered and became yet another Battle Mountain skier to score points. Banner’s second run ” the fastest by almost one second ” nearly pushed her ahead of Ammaturo.

Roberts had the best finish among Skimeister competitors yet again. Kelly VanHee, who has consistently been in the top 15, took 12th, followed by Annie Talbot, who was 13th for the second consecutive race. The Huskies had six more girls in the top 50.

Vail Mountain School, which had some unfortunate DNFs earlier in the season, was in fine form Friday, taking fourth for the best team finish this season. Joely Denkinger, who had a great first run in Aspen, put together two solid passes to place ninth. Axie Navas jumped into the top 20, placing 17th, less than a half-second from 15th. Taylor Campbell was 34th, while Kathleen Moore was a few spots behind in 42nd.

As he has been doing all year, Eagle Valley coach Francois Nanin flipped his starting order, and saw several girls qualify for state as a result. The Devils, with nine racers in the top 52, placed sixth as a team.

Rachel Landin led the way in 21st, just 0.10 seconds from 20th, while Kelsey Ellwood was right behind her in 22nd. Terrin Kinser, who qualified for state, rounded out the scoring in 27th. Both Shanna Zoch (30th) and Nicole Luczkow (31st) ran late in the draw, and still had solid times. Vail Christian’s McKenzie Curran was 91st.

Other racers who were in the top 65 include: Jana Weiss (BM, 25th), Carrie Wild (BM, 32nd), Rachel Nagel (EV, 38th) Brianna Johnson (BM, 41st), Katie Brandes (EV, 45th) Rachel L’Heureux (BM, 47th), Allison Edwards (BM, 48th), Rebecca Hughes (BM, 49th), Krista Boni (EV, 51st), HIlary Henry (EV, 52nd), Trisha Bruen (BM, 57th), Amy Mallouk (VMS, 58th), Piper McMilln (BM, 60th), Megan McQueeney (EV, 62nd) Kathryn Galser (BM, 63rd) and Rebecca Bosworth (BM, 65th).

At the current rate of progression, the Vail Christian boys team may be state champions before you know it. Two years ago, the Saints didn’t have a team. At the end of last year, they had just enough kids ” three ” to field a team.

And now, the Saints are in a fight to be the best local team. In Friday’s giant slalom, the Saints were sixth, just five points behind Battle Mountain. Not only are the Saints finishing well, they have a bunch of young kids on the hill.

“I’ve noticed,” said coach Chris Gamble, of the high numbers. “It’s a surprise. We have 11 guys, and it’s fun to see the culture ” that’s my favorite part. There’s some great camaraderie.”

The Saints’ Brennan Stege led all local racers, in 15th, which was good for his best career finish.

“He had a good week in practice,” Gamble said. “He was practicing with our on-mountain coach, Bob Seemann, and came back pumped talking with me and said he’d got his old vide back and called his own shot when we went out Friday.”

“I could have been faster,” Stege said, recounting that his best career finish prior had been in the 30’s. “We’re trying to go for top five (as a team). We’ve got a lot of freshman guys who are pretty new, so if we can get them going, our whole team can jump up a lots of spots.”

Ian Hamina, a skimeister competitor, took third and is qualified in state for both alpine and Nordic events after this past weekend. Corey Seemann, who had a great first run and started out super fast on his second run, hit a bump and had to hike, but still took 51st.

For Battle Mountain, Blaze Heuga took the family reins from his recently-graduated brother Wilder and led the Huskies to a fifth-place finish. Heuga was 17th, while teammates Davey DeChant (24th) and Colby Childers (26th) also scored. Elliott Brenner (30) and Ike Sheppard (38th) had state-qualifying times for Battle Mountain.

John McKenna led the way for seventh-place Vail Mountain in 36th. Sean Woods was 41st and Shawn Byrne 56th.

Eagle Valley, on the heels of a great performance by Griffin Turnipseed, was eighth, only two points behind the Gore Rangers. Turnipseed, skiing as the No. 1 seed for the Devils, had two great runs to take 23rd. Jamison Bair was 59th, one spot ahead of teammate Nick Whitehead.

Friday the teams head to Winter Park for a slalom.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or

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