The Canadian invasion continues for Schleper
WHISTLER, British Columbia Hunter Schleper may never want to leave Canada.Canadian ski racers, however, would gladly buy him a ticket home.Schleper, the Vail junior skier with Iced Out Racing, dominated the Canadian Junior Nationals this week in Whistler, British Columbia, and left plenty of senior racers in the dust.In Sundays super-G, Mondays super-combined, Tuesdays slalom and Wednesdays giant slalom, 16-year-old Schleper was the top junior (19 and younger) finisher.He would have qualified for (the Alpine) Junior World (Ski Championships) four times for Canada, said Iced Out coach Bruce Knoepfel.The top Canadian junior finisher in each race was awarded a spot on the junior national squad. The U.S. named its team last week.After a mediocre showing in Saturdays downhill by his own standards 37th Schleper went on a tear.I was super bummed about the downhill, so I said I needed to make something up in the other events, Schleper said. I went as hard as I could.In Sundays super-G, Schleper took 12th, tops among juniors and ahead of two U.S. Ski Team racers. On Monday, Schleper was fourth, one spot behind the U.S. Ski Teams Kevin Francis. In the technical events, Schleper was third in a slalom and second in a giant slalom.Hes been killing it, Knoepfel said. Hes just exactly where I thought hed be. Hes the top kid in the country for his age.Schleper doesnt see being the top in his age group or even in juniors the goal when he goes into the starting gate.The guy who won (Wednesday) was in his mid-to-upper 20s, and I was trying to beat him but came up a little short, Schleper said.While his performance in the north has been eye-opening of four FIS-level races the previous week, Schleper won three and was third in another the Canadians havent exactly been opening their mouths much.They didnt say anything to me, Schleper said. They dont like an American beating them on their own hill.Kitt Flowers, another J2-level racer with Iced Out, had an equally pleasing trip up north. He placed third among J2s for the giant slalom and super-combined and fifth in the downhill, adding to his three top-five overall finishes from the previous week.He skied really well, Knoepfel said. Hes more typical for a kid his age as an elite racer. Hes on par for someone who is 16 who will eventually make it into the international ski world.Schleper actually did leave Canada for Utah Wednesday night, where hes racing in U.S. National Development System invitational races.On the womens side of the races, Ski & Snowboard Club Vails Erika Ghent was 17th in the downhill and fourth in the super-G.I know Im skiing well, I just have to do it consistently, Ghent said. Its more not getting frustrated and continuing to believe Im skiing well.
Eagles Kirsten Cooper, a member of the U.S. Development and former Team Summit racer, was named to the 2008 U.S. Alpine Junior World Championship Team. Seven women and seven men were named to the squad, which will compete from Feb. 23 to March 1 in Formigal, Spain. In a pair of recent freestyle races on Vail Mountain, Ski & Snowboard Club Vails Heidi Kloser led the way with two second-place finishes. In both races, Kloser was just a shade off from taking first. Other top female SSCV finishers in the first race included Kristi Waring (ninth), Ali Bathgate (14th), K.C. Oakley (15th), Kelsey Teran (17th) and Katherine James (18th). In the second race, Teran (9th), James (10th) and Oakley (15th) were in the top 20. For the men, Matt Dillon was seventh in one competition, while Matthew White (10th), Simon Lee (15th) and Andre Lane (16th) had top finishes in the other competition.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.