J4s finish strong at Junior Olympics in Steamboat
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Junior 4 racers skied lights out in Steamboat Springs last Thursday through Saturday at the J4 Junior Olympics.
“The coaches were pleased with the way the kids handled themselves,” J4 head coach Karen Ghent said. “Everyone had something they could feel good about and use as a valuable learning experience. At this age, this is what competing at the Junior Olympics is all about. We hope they all get something out of the event that will make them better and that they can take with them in their life no matter if it is in the athletic part of their life or otherwise.”
Cody Unicume and Hunter Schleper were both standouts for the SSCV boys contingent. Schleper ended up second overall after a dominating three-day performance notching a second in super-G on Thursday, a first and third in Friday’s two slaloms and a pair of fourth-place finishes in giant slalom on Saturday.
Unicume finished fourth overall with a fourth in one of Friday’s slaloms along with a second-place finish and a first-place tie in Saturday’s two GS races.
Unicume also qualified to represent the U.S. J4 Ski Team and the Rocky/Central region at the Whistler Cup, which runs from April 2-4 in Whistler, Canada. The cup is an international children’s race, to which the U.S. sends six J4 boys and six J4 girls – a huge accomplishment for the young racer.
He qualified for the competition as a result of his strong finishes in both the slaloms and giant slaloms at the Junior Olympics.
Also noteworthy for the SSCV boys were Kitt Flowers and David Graebel. Flowers skied to an eighth-place finish in one of the slaloms Friday and a seventh-place finish in GS on Saturday. Graebel finished 15th in the super-G on Thursday.
Girls impressive, too
The SSCV girls were equally outstanding.
Delainey Ackerman finished ninth overall with a fifth-place finish in one slalom, a ninth in the super-G, and a pair of 11th-place finishes in the two GS races.
Lizzie Seibert, Marisa Ammaturo and Abby Ghent – all three in their first year on the J4 team – showed promise for the future as well with strong showings.
Seibert and Ammaturo ended up tied for 10th overall. Seibert grabbed a 15th-place finish in the super-G, as well as finishing 10th in one of Saturday’s slaloms, and sixth in a GS on Sunday. Ammaturo was sixth and 13th in slalom, and ninth in one GS. Ghent finished 12th and 13th in GS, finishing up the weekend 24th overall.
Other athletes competing for SSCV were: Jocelyn Irwin, Elliott Brenner, Andreas Calabrese, Hayden Fitzpatrick, Blaze Heuga and Connor Klein.
“Our kids did a great job getting mentally and physically prepared every day,” Ghent said. “The weather was unusually warm with temperatures in the 60’s every day. It made for challenging course conditions because the organizers had to apply chemicals to the snow which makes the snow freeze and sometimes become bumpy and chattery.
“These young athletes showed that they have true strength of character by supporting each other and dealing with the ups and downs of competition. They had real courage to put it all out there in each race. It shows a commitment to their goals by challenging themselves enough to even qualify to race there, not to mention turning in the outstanding results they did. All the coaches are proud of them.”
For complete results see Page A24