Snow nearly wipes out Junior Olympics |

Snow nearly wipes out Junior Olympics

Ian Smith
Vail, CO Colorado
JO's Braun and Barry podium KA 03-07-09

VAIL, Colorado ” Saturday’s downhill at the J3 Junior Olympics will be remembered for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s spectacular performance.

It almost never happened.

Fifteen minutes before the first forerunners were supposed to go down the hill, the snowfall picked up. Light flakes turned into heavy precipitation, making visibility a major concern. At the bottom of the course, only four sets of gates were visible.

Things got worse when the forerunners completed their runs. One forerunner summed it up by saying, “It’s dangerous.” SSCV coach J.J. Jensen estimated that one inch of snow fell on the course in 15 minutes.

That sent race officials into a frenzy sending messages up to the top of the course about the conditions. Ultimately, the race went on as planned.

SSCV is sure glad it did. In both the boys’ and girls’ races, SSCV finished 1-2 in the standings. Nick Braun claimed top honors for the boys, and Celine Guilmineau did the same for the girls.

Not only did SSCV put four skiers on the podium, it placed 13 athletes in the top 30 in the two races.

“Everybody skied really well,” Jensen said.

Jump spells trouble

Unfortunately, one of the story lines from Saturday’s race was some of the top contenders inability to land a jump toward the top of the course. The tricky section demanded a clean landing then a sharp turn to the skiers’ right.

Aspen’s Bobby Moyer went flying off the kicker and took a spill to end his day. On Thursday and Friday, Moyer won downhill training.

An hour later, SSCV’s Katharine Irwin and Buck Hill’s Paula Moltzan suffered the same fate as Moyer. Nearly identical to each other, both Irwin and Moltzan went airborne but didn’t come down cleanly on their skis.

“Katharine was absolutely ripping,” Jensen said. “It’s a little bit of bummer.”

Super-G next

Speed remains king at the Junior Olympics today. The athletes will once again take on the Golden Peak course, this time with a super-G setup.

The course will feature both technical and speed sections. Jensen estimated the athletes will be going upwards of 50 mph.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Moyer, Irwin and Moltzan came back to reach the podium. Moyer and Moltzan are both talented skiers who won downhill training on Friday. Not only that, they both represented the United States at the Topolino Games in Italy.

Other speedsters should also be in the mix. Braun and Guilmineau will be looking for a repeat performance from their downhill wins on Saturday. Buck Hill’s Mitchell Underhill is a contender to reach the podium after taking third in boys’ downhill. Great Lake’s Alex Gencheff is the same position with a third place finish in the girls’ downhill.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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