Vail locals hit podium at US Alpine Championships
While it doesn’t attract the likes of Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, the U.S. Alpine Championships hosts much of the country’s top talent for a season finale each year.
All of the proud ski racing communities in the nation want to be well represented at the event, and this year, Vail and Eagle County have succeeded in showing the nation our area is producing a fine crop of young ski racers.
Vail skier River Radamus said the event — which wrapped up on Monday, March 26, with a giant slalom — was quite competitive at times.
“We had some of the best guys in the U.S. come back, hot off Olympics and World Cups all year, and it was cool for some of the younger guys to get to compete against them,” Radamus said. “It’s cool to see where we contend against them.”
Radamus skied to the podium in the Friday, March 23 super-G, beating out several U.S. Ski Team veterans including fifth-place Tommy Ford and 10th-place Jared Goldberg.
“It wasn’t exactly a speed skier’s course,” said Radamus, who specializes in the less speed-oriented disciplines of slalom and giant slalom. “It was a course for technically sound skiers, it definitely played to my strengths.”
RESNICK, 16, TAKES fourth
Radamus said among the most impressive performances he saw at the national championships was that of fellow Ski & Snowboard Club Vail skier Allie Resnick, who punched high above her weight class in Monday’s giant slalom, finishing fourth.
“For only being 16 years old, that was pretty awesome,” Radamus said.
Resnick came from the 30th start position to finish 10th in the first run of the two-run event. In the second run, she was only beat by one other competitor to finish fourth in overall combined time.
It was the best result of her young career.
“I wasn’t expecting to do that well today,” Resnick said Monday. “But it was a really good hill and it fit my strengths, and the snow was awesome today. There wasn’t ruts and bumps.”
Resnick is currently in her first year of racing International Ski Federation level events, and it was her first year competing at nationals.
“The hill was so much harder than what I’m used to,” she said.
While fourth usually isn’t enough for a podium, Resnick was second among juniors and did get to put a silver medal around her neck at nationals.
“It was really exciting, really fun,” she said.
NELLIE IS BACK
Making a return to alpine competition this season, Vail skier Nellie Rose Talbot won a super-G contest at nationals on Wednesday, March 21, a race that doubled as an International Ski Federation event. She also hit the podium in a second super-G on Friday.
Talbot, 18, suffered a string of injuries in recent years, receiving surgeries in December of 2016 and August of 2017.
“This season has been really tough, coming back from injury,” Talbot said on Monday. “But my head is in the game again. Being back on the podium, and accomplishing stuff that I know I’m capable of, is great going into next season.”
Talbot said she enjoyed the vibe in Sun Valley at nationals.
“The whole town was super involved, very supportive,” she said. “The hill was rough at first but the course crew was amazing and the snow ended up turning out really great for all the races. It was just a really fun time.”
Many of the young Vail racers who competed at nationals are still eligible to compete at junior nationals, which is scheduled for this week, also in Sun Valley.
O’BRIEN GETS TWO TITLES
Another pair of standout local performances came from Nina O’Brien, a 20-year-old ski racer from Edwards who attended Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont.
O’Brien won Friday’s super-G and Saturday’s slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships.
“It feels really good,” she said. “I’ve been working on my slalom a lot this season so it’s nice to see a payoff. I was a little nervous coming into the second run but I’m glad I sent it and it worked out for me.”
Lila Lapanja was in the lead first run by just 0.03 seconds, so O’Brien knew she’d have to push it to get results, she told U.S. Ski Team press officer Megan Harrod following the event.
“I think chasing Lila was a good position to be in,” O’Brien said. “At the same time I knew Amelia (Smart) was super close behind me, so I knew I was going to have to push it to if I wanted to be on the podium or get the win.”
When asked if she could make it three in a row, O’Brien answered with a laugh, “I don’t know, I’m not going to jinx myself.”
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.