Moyer, Cooper finish Junior Olympics with slalom win
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” The slalom winners at the J3 Junior Olympics shared a common reaction on Wednesday.
Aspen’s Bobby Moyer and Steamboat Springs’ Julia Cooper both won titles on Bear Trap at Beaver Creek. Neither could wrap their head around it afterwards.
“I just can’t believe I won a slalom,” Moyer said. “I’m not really a slalom skier. This year, I’ve been working on it really hard. To beat all the Central Division kids who all they ski is slalom is pretty cool.”
When it sinks in, Moyer and Cooper can remember finishing the Junior Olympics in dream fashion. On the last day of racing, both crushed their second runs to top the competition.
“It feels amazing,” Cooper said. “I can’t believe I just did that.”
Moyer started the second run in third place behind Buck Hill, Minn.’s Mitchell Underhill and Wisconsin’s Ausblick Ski Racing’s Ian Beal. Instead of worrying about the deficit, he put his skis downhill. Moyer’s combined time of 1 minute, 24.88 seconds held for the victory.
Even with the fastest time, it wait wasn’t over for Moyer with Underhill and Beal still left to race. Underhill did his best to overtake Moyer but he settled for second. Beal suffered a fall toward the bottom of the course and did not finish.
The victory is Moyer’s second at the Junior Olympics. After falling in the downhill on Saturday, Moyer came back to win the super-G a day later. He was still feeling back pain from Saturday’s fall on Wednesday and took Advil before both of his runs, he said.
“I just focused on what I needed to do,” Moyer said. “I told myself, ‘This is it.'”
Buck Hill’s Willy Blommer reached the podium for the second-straight day with a third-place finish. Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Alex Leever took fourth in 1:25.52.
Leever’s performance ended a strong week for the first-year J3. He took fifth in the super-G, ninth in the giant slalom and fourth in the slalom.
“I’ve been more of a technical skier,” Leever said. “I just surprised myself. I got fifth in super-G and I didn’t expect that at all.”
SSCV added two more top-ten finishers in Brinton Barry (sixth) and Nick Braun (seventh). Braun jumped from 27th to seventh on his second run with the fastest time of the afternoon in 41.79.
Thomas Grant (13th) and Nick Santaniello (24th) also did well for SSCV.
“Everybody raced today,” SSCV coach J.J. Jensen said. “Nobody held back. Everybody was racing.”
Cooper tops talented field
The drama at the end of the boys’ race continued to build in the girls’. The last handful of skiers to take their second runs kept topping each other with an eye on the title.
First, SSCV’s Celine Guilmineau zipped across the finish line in a combined time of 1:23.60 for the lead. Teammate Katharine Irwin briefly claimed the top spot a moment later with a sizzling second run of 40.60, the fastest of the day.
The next skier down the hill was Cooper. Her second run time of 41.10 gave her a combined effort of 1:21.97 to edge Irwin by 0.22 seconds.
Buck Hill’s Paula Moltzan, who won both the super-G and giant slalom, had a chance to knock off Cooper but she spent time hiking on her second run.
Cooper’s win is no accident. Before the race, she meticulously inspected the course to make sure she knew every inch of Bear Trap.
“Everyone makes fun of me because I take the longest inspection of anybody in the field,” Cooper said. “I memorize the whole course. It takes a long time and I get distracted. I see myself with my own eyes going down the course.”
Just as impressive as Cooper’s victory was Guilmineau in third. The finish means she stood on the podium in all four disciplines at the Junior Olympics giving her the overall title.
“(Celine) had a great week,” Jensen said. “She is an incredible skier. She has worked really hard this season. It all came together this week. Winning the overall is no fluke, she is one of the best skiers.”
SSCV’s Kendall VanHee capped her week with another strong performance in 13th place. Eva Spaeh (18th) and Mallory Slicker (28th) both finished in the top 30 for SSCV.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.