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Ski and Snowboard Club Vail dominates training at Junior Olympics

Ian Smith
ismith@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
JO's downhill training Guilmineau 1 KA 03-05-09
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VAIL, Colorado ” Judging by Thursday’s downhill training, visiting athletes might be leaving without much hardware from the Junior Olympics.

Ski and Snowboard Club Vail could hog all the awards.

In the first downhill training session, SSCV placed three in the top four in the girls’ race and two in the top three on the boys’ side. What’s scary for the rest of the field is that SSCV thinks it can be even better.

“We’re really absolutely pleased,” SSCV coach J.J. Jensen said. “I think all of our athletes have room for improvement. I expect to them to step it up (today).”

SSCV’s Celine Guilmineau had no trouble slicing through blustery conditions on Thursday. Wearing the No. 12 bib, Guilmineau zipped into first place with a time of 49.62 seconds. She outlasted the rest of the 71-athlete field to win by .5 seconds over Buck Hill’s Paula Moltzan.

“Celine is a great skier,” Jensen said. “She’s a player on this hill. I’m not going to say she’s going to win (on Saturday), but it wouldn’t surprise me if she did.”

Guilmineau’s SSCV teammates weren’t far behind. Kendall VanHee might have turned in the run of the day after catapulting into third place from her No. 59 bib. VanHee is in her first year competing at the J3 level.

“Kendall is an incredible skier,” Jensen said. “She’s a great skier with lot of talent. She has a big heart. When she goes, she goes.”

Katharine Irwin finished in fourth for SSCV with a time of 50.85.

“It’s a really fun downhill course,” Irwin said after her run. “It’s a fun one to start out on.”

SSCV’s strong day continued with three more skiers in the top 30. Mallory Slicker took 17th after crossing the finish line in 54.06. Olivia Swift (20th) and Caroline Byrne (26th) both did well for SSCV.

“We’re pretty happy with the way the girls skied,” Jensen said. “We know they have more. They can still turn it up a notch.

SSCV boys gain confidence

For most of the downhill training competitors, Thursday was one of their first experiences racing downhill. It didn’t look that way when the times were being scribbled on the big board.

Aspen’s Bobby Moyer claimed top honors in the boys’ downhill training with a time of 47.74, but he missed a gate so his time normally wouldn’t have counted. That would have pushed SSCV’s Anthony Romano into first place after he blistered the course. Romano raced to the finish in 48.83 from his No. 14 bib.

“I just took a tight line,” Romano said. “It felt pretty good. The track was fast.”

Romano’s teammate, Nick Braun, took third place after catching some serious air off one of the jumps. With the strong winds, going airborne probably cost Braun a few ticks.

“Nick was a little shocked,” Jensen said. “He got more air than he thought he would.”

SSCV’s Thomas Grant used the same strategy as Romano ” go as fast as possible. Starting in the No. 36 bib, Grant sprinted up the leaderboard into seventh after finishing in 50.03. Even after the impressive run, Grant is focused on going faster today during the second downhill training run.

“I was just going as fast as I could,” Grant said. “At the pitch, I flew so bad. I got control, but I made a mistake. I need to keep it straight.”

Thomas Walsh (24th) and Nick Santaniello (29th) rounded out the SSCV skiers in the top 30 on Thursday.

A second downhill training run is scheduled for today at 10:30 a.m. on Golden Peak in Vail.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or ismith@vaildaily.com.


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