Ski Club Vail athletes shine at Junior National Champs |

Ski Club Vail athletes shine at Junior National Champs

Daily staff report
Reece Bell races at Beaver Creek in the weeks leading up to her victory in the slalom U16 national championships in Sugarloaf, Maine, recently.
Robert Zuch | Special to the Daily |

VAIL — Ski & Snowboard Club Vail alpine athletes put an exclamation point on the season at the Junior National Championships and U16 National Championships, which were held alongside the U.S. National Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine.

At the junior national level, which includes all athletes younger than 21, Rachael DesRochers and Jack Keane recorded top performances as members of SSCV with a pair of third-place results in the giant slalom and slalom, respectively.

For DesRochers, who finished on the podium behind a couple national team athletes, the March 29 result makes a major statement to close out the season, said her coach, Crawford Pierce.

“The reason to hold a junior nationals after the senior nationals is because the U.S. Ski Team wanted to showcase the athletes competing head to head,” Pierce said. “It’s not FIS point; it’s just who’s the fastest.”

“It was really surprising because after those teams were picked, I knew I had a lot of work to do to be at the same level as those kids. Toward the end of the season, it just all came together.”Reece BellSkier, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail

DesRochers, 20, is being courted by a number of NCAA programs, but she hasn’t ruled out another run at national team selection. Her result at junior nationals comes just weeks after DesRochers finished 13th at junior worlds.

For the men, in GS, SSCV alumnus, now a member of the U.S. Ski Team, River Radamus landed the best result, just off the podium in fourth. He was followed in the top 15 by current SSCV athletes Kyle Negomir (seventh), Bridger Gile (ninth), Kalle Wagner and Colby Lange (tied for 12th). Keane wasn’t far off in 15th.

A day later, Keane made a splash with a podium result in the slalom. He was followed by Kalle Wagner in sixth and Jacob Dilling in 14th. On the women’s side of the slalom, Lucia Bailey was SSCV’s top performer in fifth.

U16s land big results

The U16s took over Sugarloaf with a series of races all to themselves — super G, giant slalom, slalom and duals, which was canceled, were all contested in the days following the Junior National Championship.

SSCV came away with a pair of winners at the event — one expected, another more surprising. With a victory at the Seven Nations event (a premier youth ski race held in Austria) and a plethora of other prestigious triumphs earlier this season, the team was not surprised to find Kellen Kinsella back on the podium. He finished second in the super G and giant slalom, and clocked the fastest time in the slalom. Henry Heaydon, third, joined him on the slalom podium.

Shocking the field — and even herself — was Reece Bell, who skied to a huge win in the slalom on Sunday. Bell, who competes among a stacked U16 girls’ team, was left off the Seven Nations and Pokal Loka rosters earlier this year. She knew she needed to step up her game to get to the next level, and this result at U16 Nationals is a great start, she said.

“It was really surprising because after those teams were picked, I knew I had a lot of work to do to be at the same level as those kids,” Bell said. “Toward the end of the season, it just all came together.”

“I knew the competition was going to be thick, but I didn’t want to think about that too much. So I just put down two solid runs. I just stayed focused on my skiing. … I think I did a better job of looking ahead avoiding the little mistakes that add up — just trying to be smooth and clean.”

Other SSCV top performers included Ainsley Proffit, who finished third in the super-G, as well as Caroline Jones, Kaitlyn Harsch, Berit Frischholz, Maddox Gayer, Cleo Braun, Allie Resnick, Tegan Wold who all earned top 10s.

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