Times drop on second day of downhill training at Junior Olympics in Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Kendall VanHee knows a thing or two about going fast.
For the second-straight day, the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail racer hurdled the competition from her No. 60 starting position to finish in the top five.
The majority of the field at the J3 Junior Olympics in Vail followed her lead. On the second day of downhill training on Friday, the times dipped as the skiers continued to learn how to navigate the Golden Peak course. Today, the times become official as the J3 Junior Olympics officially kick off with the downhill at 10:30 a.m.
“The course was much faster, much harder,” SSCV coach J.J. Jensen said. “We’re getting into the type of stuff we see for speed. It’s a downhill-championship course. The track was definitely faster.”
In both the girls’ and boys’ races, the top times were down from Thursday’s marks. Buck Hill’s Paula Moltzan sprinted to top honors in the girls’ training with a time of 48.97 seconds. On the boys’ side, Welch Village’s Nicholas Mitchell won in 47.81.
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A string of SSCV skiers were close behind in both races. SSCV placed seven racers in the top 20 in the girls’ race, and four in the top 10 in the boys’.
Katharine Irwin paced the SSCV girls in second place with a time of 49.62.
“(Katharine) is just a good skier,” Jensen said. “She’s skiing well. I’m hoping (today), she steps it up another notch.”
Irwin’s SSCV teammate Celine Guilmineau placed third in 50.16. Guilmineau won Thursday’s training in 49.62.
“It was a pretty good run except I got a little freaked out by the jump,” Guilmineau said. “I didn’t go as fast as (Thursday), but it was still good.”
Normally, once the top 30 skiers complete their runs, the podium can easily be predicted. That’s not the case with VanHee in the mix. On Thursday, she blistered the course in 50.82 for third after starting in the No. 59 bib. VanHee, one of the youngest racers in the field, knocked that time down by 0.55 seconds for fifth on Friday.
“I go as fast as I possibly can,” VanHee said. “I love it. It’s really fun because I can prove my point that I can be a good racer. It’s great.”
Olivia Swift (12th), Eva Spaeh (16th) and Caroline Byrne (18th) all reached the top 20 for SSCV. Molly McGrew came in 29th to round out the SSCV skiers in the top 30.
Barry shines after injury
Brinton Barry is a tough kid. Only a few short weeks ago, he was sidelined due to a broken collar bone. Now, he’s back on the hill, full-speed ahead.
On Friday, Barry jumped up the leaderboard into sixth place with a time of 48.66.
“(The key) was taking a straighter line and looking for speed wherever it was,” Barry said.
After limited training time last month, Barry seems more confident with each run. Jensen said Barry was the best athlete on the jumps on Friday. Barry is hoping he can turn in another strong run today and reach the podium.
“I am going to go for it 100 percent,” Barry said. “I was definitely holding back today. I’m going to go for it tomorrow.”
Barry could see some familiar faces on the podium. SSCV’s Nick Braun raced down the course in 47.81 for second.
“Nick Braun skied really well,” Jensen said. “We got him calmed down in the air. He didn’t slide quite as far (as Thursday).”
Anthony Romano (seventh) and Thomas Grant (10th) both ran fast on Friday. Thomas Walsh (21st) and Nick Santaniello (24th) finished in the top 30 for SSCV.
With downhill training in the books, the J3 Junior Olympics start for real today with the downhill.
“We’re all really pumped up,” Jensen said. “All the kids have settled down and now we’re ready to go out and win a race.”
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.