Vail girls sweep Alpine U16 National Championships
Locals win slalom, giant slalom and super-G in last big event of the season
In a final test of talent for athletes born in 2003 and 2004, Vail ski racers showed the nation what fans of the sport may have to look forward to in the years to come.
The Alpine U16 National Championships were held in Breckenridge from March 31 through April 4, and the girls from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail swept all disciplines – claiming the top podium position in slalom, giant slalom and super-G.
Emma Resnick, 15, won the overall title on the season, with her victories in both slalom and super-G carrying her to the overall title.
After a long and successful season — Resnick won the top race in the world for athletes her age, the OPA Cup, along with three events at the regional championships this year — she said she was trying not to put too much pressure on herself heading into the final event.
“I knew the more pressure I put on myself, the more I could be disappointed,” she said. “So I just went out there and tried to ski my best and hopefully the results would come.”
Resnick was also excited for her teammates, in the slalom, she was joined on the podium by Bayli McSpadden in third, while Kaitlin Kean, Sophia Lehmann and Liv Moritz also skied to top-20 results for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
The big standout besides Resnick, however, was Kjersti Moritz, who won the giant slalom by a whopping .83 seconds, and finished second behind Resnick in the super-G.
“She’s been on first this season,” Resnick said of Moritz.
In the super-G, Moritz came back from the 37th start position to finish second. The race was especially difficult, Resnick said, because of a course redesign which needed to take place right before the race.
“There was course complications with the jump being too big, so they had to reset and restart the race,” Resnick said. “So there was a whole lot of difficult things that came into play mentally, but it was good.”
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete Tianna Bruce also finished in fourth in the super-G; and McSpadden and Palmer notched results in the top 20, as well.
Moritz impressed many with her ability to come back from 37th start position to finish on the podium in the super-G, but it was her giant slalom performance that turned the most heads, specifically the second run. Moritz said she skied it clean with few mistakes.
“It felt fast but I didn’t really know how I matched up to the rest of the field,” she said.
Resnick and McSpadden also landed in the top 10 in the giant slalom, followed by Tianna Bruce, Keane and Zoie Palmer in the top 20.
While the season is over for the athletes born in 2003, those born in 2004, like Moritz, 14, also received a chance to qualify for one more race. The coveted Whistler Cup takes place later this month and will serve as a final test for first-year U16 athletes like Moritz. The event takes only the top three first-year U16 athletes from each country invited.
On the men’s side, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail qualified two of those three athletes, with Toby Scarpella and Nick Kirwood earning invites.
“The ‘04 athletes are really strong right now,” said Ski & Snowboard Club Vail coach Will Hadden. “They’re going to be a force next year.”
The Ski & Snowboard Club Vail boys put together a nice streak in the slalom in Breckenridge, with Kirwood, Scarpella, Appollo Powell and Jackson Gayer all finishing between 14th and 21st.
In the giant slalom, the Vail boys once again put together a big streak in the 12th through 17th positions, with Scarpella, Tanner Grant, Tyler Webert, Samuel Packer, and William Wasserman, as well as Gayer landing in the top 20.
In the boys’ super-G, Sebastian Kohlhofer led Ski & Snowboard Club Vail in ninth.
“The weather was a challenge, but when they had a clean course, they were fast,” Hadden said. “This group is really fun, they’re hard workers, we don’t want to put to the cart before the horse because they’re so young, but it seems like this could be a really solid group moving into the FIS level.”
Breckenridge Ski Resort announced Wednesday morning it will remain open for two weekends of spring skiing and riding beyond the resort’s previously-scheduled closing day of this Monday, Memorial Day, May 27.