Junior Olympics kick off in Vail | VailDaily.com

Junior Olympics kick off in Vail

Shauna Farnell
Bret Hartman/Vail Daily Ski Snowboard Club Vail members lead a parade thourgh Vail Village Monday for the opening ceremonies of the Junior Olympics.

VAIL – The proverbial torch is lit and 160 of the best 13- and 14-year-old skiers will put fire under their skis this week during the J3 Junior Olympics at Vail.Racing begins today with downhill at Golden Peak and continues Wednesday with super-G, then moves to Beaver Creek with giant slalom on Thursday and Friday and wraps up Saturday with slalom.All in all, 160 racers from 15 states will compete in every race, and the scale of importance of this event, as organizers point out, is about as high as skiers can reach at this level of the sport.

“It’s huge for these guys,” said Karen Ghent, program director with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, which is hosting the event. “This is really like their Olympics. It’s their first step in a series that will show them all that ski racing offers – friends in other divisions, a higher level of racing, the whole experience of being at a big event. It’s a big part of their careers as ski racers.”A total of 14 racers -eight boys and six girls – will represent SSCV, the highest number of any club participating in the event. Racers were qualified for the speed events at the end of January in Steamboat Springs and for technical races last month in Winter Park.Racers competing for SSCV include Cody Unicume, Kit Flowers, Brian Dwarfman, Hunter Schleper, David Graebel, Taylor Wettlaufer, Fraser Cavness and Andrew Cryer racing for the boys and Christa Ghent, Jamie Lee Roberts, Delaney Ackerman, Jocelyn Irwin, Tori Lockwood and Whitney Setterberg racing for the girls.

“Vail qualified the most athletes, tying with another club,” said Saundra Spaeh, who, along with Marka Brenner and Debbie Heuga, serves as co-chair and organizer for the J3 Junior Olympics. “No club has more athletes racing than we do.”An opening parade and ceremony took place Monday evening in Vail Village where Beaver Creek’s Babes of Prey and Bachelors Gulch demo synchronized teams zig-zagged down to the base of Golden Peak and 1994 Olympic downhill gold medalist Tommy Moe was on hand to offer some words of wisdom.”The best thing about skiing is that it’s not judged,” Moe said. “Don’t think about the result, just think about the task at hand. Go fast. Take chances.”

The top three overall winners of this week’s JO technical events will go on to compete in the international Whistler Cup next month in Whistler, B.C.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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