Local downhiller opens Junior Championships with gold medal
VAIL — A local downhiller brought home the gold in Sunday’s downhill in the U16 Rocky/Central Junior Championships at Golden Peak.
Gretchen Pavelich, a 15-year-old Vail Christian High School freshman, was the winner in the women’s downhill, competing for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
Pavelich finished .43 seconds ahead of second place finisher Hannah Soria and .47 ahead of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Taylor Brandt.
On the boys side, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail took five of the top six spots in Sunday’s downhill.
Tanner Perkins, of Crested Butte, was the winner, followed by Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Gus Leblanc, Burke Fansher, Blake Bathum, Henry Heaydon and Maxwell Timm.
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The Junior Champions features ski racers from Colorado and the U.S. Central Division, competing this week on Vail’s Golden Peak.
Pavelich loves lots of things in life, and going fast tops that list. She’s strong in all the disciplines, but speed events are her favorite.
“My goal was to win the downhill. I just love speed,” she said.
What she doesn’t care for, she said, is waiting around.
She knew she had skied well, and had some idea that she might win, but a couple other racers had a chance to beat her, so she didn’t get too attached to the idea of a gold medal. So she went skiing, because … a bluebird day in Vail, that’s why.
Chair 10 and Chair 6 were calling, so away she went.
Back at the bottom she asked several people how it all went.
“You’re winning!” they all told her.
Five minutes before the awards ceremony, she learned it was official.
The next thing she knew, she was climbing to the top of the podium.
Pavelich is no stranger to success.
She went to the nationals three times in the Iron Kids, a triathlon series for kids who compete in swimming, biking and running.
At Vail Christian High School, Pavelich is playing goalie for the Saints soccer team this spring, and played basketball this winter. She’s a former football player at St. Clare of Assisi.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.