Mitchell bounces back for gold medal at Vail JOs
VAIL, Colorado- A day off from racing seemed to hit the spot for the for the boys in the J3 Junior Olympic giant slalom Tuesday at Golden Peak. Of course, winning a medal at JOs will improve anyone’s outlook on life.
Nicholas Mitchell of Welch Valley (Red Wing, Minn.) returned to the top of the podium, shaking off a DNF in Sunday’s super-G, winning the GS for his second gold medal of the JOs. Taos (N.M.)’s Nicolas Veth punched in with a silver, boosting his hopes for the overall title this week, and Aspen’s Devon Cardamone earned bronze, overcoming rough outings earlier this week.
With a downhill win already in his back pocket, Mitchell’s combined time of 1 minute, 30.13 seconds in giant slalom wrapped up a spot in the Whistler (British Columbia) Cup April 9-11, capping a long quest.
“It’s cool,” Mitchell said. “I’ve tried four years in a row, and this is the year I finally made it.”
Mitchell was in the running during Sunday’s super-G, but went into the I-70 Turn a little too hot and spilled. Tuesday, the Minnesotan attacked, laying down a first run of 46.15 seconds, 0.78 seconds ahead of both Veth and Cardamone.
Racing with a sizable lead, Mitchell left nothing to chance laying down the fastest second run as well (43.98) for a 1.26-second win ahead of Veth.
“I think it helped to have a day off because I got all my confidence back and got to train some gates and just got in the groove in GS,” said Mitchell, who spent the day over the pass at Copper.
Veth had won the super-G Sunday, and the theory of momentum would say that he wouldn’t have minded racing Monday. But he ended up bashing slalom gates at Beaver Creek.
“Going from downhill and super-G changes the tempo from really long turns to short ones,” Veth said. “It was good to switch it up. I think some of my quickness came from yesterday’s training.”
Veth and Cardamone were deadlocked at 46.93 after the first run and 8-hundredths of a second in the afternoon race ended up being the difference between silver and bronze.
Nevertheless, Cardamone was a happy camper at the bottom of the hill with his first J3 JO medal after much success at the J4 level.
“I’m pretty excited because the week has been disappointing,” Cardamone said. “I fell in the super-G and did not-so-great in the downhill. But it feels really god to be on the podium.”
Apex (Minn.)’s Zak Kjos punched in at fourth, just ahead of Aspen’s Dean Tavers. Alex Leever and Nick Santaniello represented Ski and Snowboard Club Vail in sixth and seventh, respectively. Telluride’s Hayden Fake, Steamboat Springs’s Alex Barounos and Welch Valley’s Maxwell Nygren rounded out the top 10.
The JOs end today with the slalom at Bear Trap at Beaver Creek for both the boys and girls. Boys first run is at 9:45 a.m. with the girls at 11:15 a.m. Second runs are at 12:15 p.m. and 1:15 p.m.
Two major things are at stake. The winners of the slalom races get bids to Whistler. There’s also the overall JO title.
Among the girls, Aspen’s Danielle Brownell-Patty, having gone 3-for-3 this week, is in command. Her teammate Julia Mueller-Ristine is a solid second and would be in position for the overall if Brownell-Patty were to falter severely.
Tuesday’s GS made thing complicated on the boys side. Veth has the lead, but Mitchell jumped back into the middle of things with his second gold. Fake, Kjos and Buck Hill’s Connor Croasdale are also in the mix.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.