On heels of another top run, Vail’s Ghent wins | VailDaily.com

On heels of another top run, Vail’s Ghent wins

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado
SPT Erika Ghent DT 4-4-08

VAIL Erika Ghent knows what it feels like to be the fastest skier.Its always good to win no matter what kind of race it is, said Ghent, the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete.Sometimes, though, it feels really good to be fast. Friday was one of those times for Ghent. In a Colorado Ski Cup giant slalom at Vails Golden Peak, Ghent bested a heavy field full of top collegiate racers and a pair of U.S. Ski Team members.It was great racing today, Ghent said. There were definitely a lot of good girls here.Ghent started the day where she left off Thursday, putting down the fastest first run of 1 minute, 1.71 seconds. (In Thursdays giant slalom, Ghent had the best second run to move up into sixth place.) Petra Zakourilova was in second, 0.34 seconds back, with U.S. Development Team skier and Eagle resident Kirsten Cooper in third, another 0.02 back. On a similar course set as the first run, Ghent had the third-best second run to come in at a combined 2:04.55, with Zakourilova holding on to second place (2:05.24).I was just putting it down the hill and having some fun, Ghent said. I was confident going into the second run.Thursdays winner, Eva Huckova, who skis with the University of Utah, had the fastest second run to move from sixth to third. Cooper was having a solid run until she got too low on a turn several gates before the finish; she placed 17th. SSCVs Georgia Wettlaufer placed 14th. Other SSCV skiers in the top half of the draw were: Delainey Ackerman (25th), Alice Ralston (26th), Whitney Setterberg (29th), Mary Sackbauer (39th), Abby Ghent (40th), Joelle Chevalier (43rd) and Julie Keeler (44th).While Thursdays conditions were a bit soft, Fridays pitch was solid, and racers enjoyed perfectly blue skies.You couldnt ask for better snow this time of year, said Erika Ghent, who is coming off a solid showing at U.S. Nationals. I kind of wanted to keep the ball rolling, and now everything is kind of falling into place.

BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado When a skiers hip hits the snow, its usually the death knell for a top finish.Ski & Snowboard Club Vails Will Gregorak proved Friday that even from the seat of his pants, he can still land on the podium.After a super-fast first run at a Colorado Ski Cup in Breckenridge that left him just 0.01 off the pace of leader Jake Zamansky, Gregorak found himself in a tough situation midway through his second run.I had a little problem at one point, Gregorak said. I leaned in a little and went down on my hip. At that point I was thinking, Oh, no, Im on the ground. Then I thought, OK, Im still on the course, lets keep going forward.Gregorak recovered and finished with the 13th-best run, just a shade of a second over the top time, and came in with a combined time of 2 minutes, 2.03 seconds, good for third.Sometimes you fall, and sometimes you just hip check and get back up, Gregorak said. But its hard to have a good run and keep your focus. Thats kind of rare.The U.S. Ski Teams Will Brandenburg took first, ahead of teammate Zamansky. SSCVs Nathan Asoian was 20th with teammate Paul Britvar 25th. As was the case in Thursdays race, the field was replete with U.S. Team skiers, which meant Gregoraks top finish scored him a solid points result of 19. With the points, Gregorak likely will move into the top three for his age in giant slalom when the next points list comes out.Its great. I feel like anything I do here is extra credit because Ive had such a good season, Gregorak said.Hes been stepping it up in the bigger races, SSCV coach Craig Daniels said. Theres no question hell go a long way in the sport. He stepped it up at U.S. Nationals, and well see some good things from him in the next few days in the slalom.With his results this season, Gregorak will likely be invited to ski with the U.S. Development Team next season, Daniels said. Gregorak, a J1, is a year ahead in school and will graduate this spring; he plans on skiing full time next season.Both the men and women have a Colorado Ski Cup slalom today at Beaver Creek.

PARK CITY, Utah For college students, taking a semester off can be a great way to rekindle some academic drive.In K.C. Oakleys case, time off from school helped her athletic drive. At last weekends U.S. Freestyle Championships in Park City, Utah, Oakley, a Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete, placed third in Sundays dual moguls.Shell get a good points result, said SSCV freestyle program director Brian Baker. She was starting to mull over what to do with her career, so it will be interesting to see if it sends her in one direction.Oakley, a student at the University of California Berkeley, had skied out of Squaw Valley, Calif., before coming to Vail for the season. By virtue of her finish at nationals, she qualified for the U.S. Team selections.It was a big result for her and for our program, Baker said.Two other SSCV skiers qualified for the dual mogul finals, with Kristi Waring tying for fifth and Heidi Kloser placing 14th.We had some disappointed athletes after (Saturdays single moguls), and they rallied and turned it around on Sunday, Baker said.The SSCV freestyle team closes out its season in Winter Park this weekend.

WHISTLER, British Columbia At the J3 and J4 Junior Olympics late last month, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail kids proved to be some of the top skiers in the Rockies.On Friday, those same skiers showed racers from the Rockies are some of the top in the world.SSCVs Greta Byrne placed second in a super-G at the Whistler Cup, an internationally renowned race in British Columbia. Byrne came in at 1 minute, 10.62 seconds, while the Czech Republics Valentina Volopichova won the race at 1:09.66. SSCVs Kaytlyn Samuelson was 11th, at 1:12.04.In the J2 Kombi race, SSCVs Alex Leever took seventh at 54.49, just 0.08 seconds out of the top five. In the boys super-G, SSCVs Sean McCormick was 28th at 1:11.41.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

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