Junior Champs mimic Vail ’99
VAIL – Wednesday’s Junior Championships in Vail was a repeat of the 1999 World Championships — also held here in the Vail Valley — with the quest for super-G gold ending in a dead-heat tie.
In ’99, it was the Norse Lasse Kjus tying Hermann Maier of Austria down to the hundredth of a second at Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek. On Wednesday, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s (SSCV) Ryan Schmidt knotted it up with Sky Kelsey of the Aspen Ski Club in 54.21 seconds.
The 2012 J3 Rocky/Central Junior Championships super-G was the second race of the five-day contest in Vail and much like at Tuesday’s downhill, the course was running fast. Unlike Tuesday, however, were cloudy skies above, making light a little flat on the course.
“The athletes don’t seem to mind or notice,” said SSCV women’s coach Bruce Hamlin. “You’re not always gonna get perfect skies, that’s what we train for.”
Hamlin’s girls scored four of the top ten spots, with silver going to Megan McGrew. She was edged out by Katy Harris of Team Breck, who came from behind in the 22nd starting spot to claim first.
“I actually like starting later in the speed events,” said Harris after the race. “The snow is a little faster … when I got down I was proud of the run.”
Third went to Swedish racer Emelie Selinder of the Ohio-based Mad River Mountain Ski Club, who beat SSCV’s Abigail Murer onto the podium by only .04.
“We got edged out of a few spots but overall not a bad day at all,” said Hamlin. “Can’t complain about second and fourth.”
The boys noon start began with an SSCV show, as the local athletes had the first four starting spots. River Radamus was the first athlete out of the gate, and his fast run of 54.58 held strong throughout the next 75 racers to earn him third on the podium. It was actually the second-fastest time of the day, but with a tie at first there was no silver medal awarded.
“I’ve seen a three- and even a four-way tie before, but never for the first-place spot like that,” said Hamlin. “Crazy.”
Schmidt was the third athlete out of the gate on Wednesday, with Kelsey seventh. As the other racers took their runs, Schmidt was at the top of the course, hoping his first-place tie would hold.
“They don’t go down to the thousandths, do they?” he asked coach Rob Worrell.
“Not yet,” Worrell replied.
“I guess we’ll just have to make room for each other on the podium,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt said he felt very solid and consistent on his winning run, with the only trouble spot coming at the top of the pitched portion of the course entitled “Afterthought.”
“I was a little late coming onto it with my line,” he said following the race. “So that was probably the most difficult part of the race for me.”
Worrell said he was extremely pleased with Wednesday’s performance from the guys.
“Today was more like it,” he said after the race. “It felt good. And I think think we’re only going to get better going into the technical events.”
At the awards ceremony, after sharing the podium, the winners were caught off guard with an open-ended question in front of a rolling video camera.
“What does it mean to you guys to share the podium,” they were asked.
After a few extremely awkward moments of dead air from both boys, it was Schmidt who broke the silence.
“It’s great to share the podium with Sky,” he said.
The classy Schmidt, Kelsey and the rest of the boys have the day off today; check out the women’s giant slalom on Golden Peak starting at 10:30 a.m.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.