Vail JOs: Marzario slows her way to win
BEAVER CREEK – And now for the latest trend in alpine ski racing – go slowly.
That was the key for Buck Hill (Burnsville, Minn.)’s Montana Marzario during Wednesday’s J3 Junior Olympics girls slalom at Beaver Creek’s Bear Trap.
“I was really nervous because at practice I couldn’t ski this hill,” Marzario said. “I couldn’t ski the steep part. I kept falling.”
And so, Marzario took her foot off the gas pedal, instead relying on her copious technical skills to ride to JO gold in a combined time of 1 minute, 25.71 seconds.
More than just gold, Marzario earned spot in the Whistler (British Columbia) Cup and atoned, at least in her mind, for a tough week.
“It’s super-exciting,” Marzario said. “I had a lot of ups and downs, I was not good in GS and fell in super-G.”
While Marzario ended up with a gold and bronze (Saturday’s downhill), Aspen’s Julia Mueller-Ristine finished in a familiar place – second – in 1:26.53. Brilliant all week with three silver medals and a bronze, Mueller-Ristine nevertheless, was despondent after Wednesday’s race, thinking that her hopes of reaching Whistler were gone because the top step of the podium was elusive.
But she was one happy young lady Wednesday night at the Junior Olympics closing dinner when it was announced that she ended up tying her teammate Danielle Brownell-Patty for this week’s girls overall title. Thus, Mueller-Ristine is, in fact, deservedly going to the Whistler Cup.
Suzanne Lyon, an independent racer out of Steamboat Springs, clocked in at 1:26.87 for bronze.
The girls race started with a shock. Brownell-Patty, who had dominated the Junior Olympics to this point with golds in downhill, super-G and giant slalom, was the first out of the gate in the morning and had to hike.
Her first-run time of 53.37 knocked her out of contention, though she rallied impressively to finish 29th with an afternoon run of 42.64.
Regardless of Brownell-Patty, Marzario showed that she’s a force in slalom even with a slow strategy. The Minnesotan laid down a 43.61 in her first run, and that gave her a 1.03-second lead over Mueller-Ristine.
Slow was apparently fast for Marzario, so she went “slower” on her second run for a 42.10, the third-fastest time of the afternoon. She admitted that her new strategy was a little strange and wasn’t quite sure she had won.
“I had a second lead but that run was really slow,” Marzario said. “But then all my friends came and hugged me so I got the idea.”
Marzario’s a quiet young lady, so it seemed like her folks, Mark Smith and Sherrie Marzario as well as Frank Marzario, were more excited about the win. But it’s safe to say the entire clan was quite ecstatic.
When Marzario tripped the beam. Mueller-Ristine had to have felt like she was in the movie “Groundhog Day.” In her previous three competitions this week, she’d skied fantastically only to see Brownell-Patty win gold.
Wednesday, it was Marzario and her apparent final chance to earn a spot in Whistler was gone. However her coach, Pat Callahan, was already crunching numbers for the overall title, and was preparing to give her the good news Wednesday night.
Lyon knew exactly where she stood. As it turns out, she was just doing family business. Her older brother Tommy won bronze in the JO slalom as a second-year J3 two years ago.
Throw in that Lyon trains with the Steamboat Springs High School team and had competed at Bear Trap earlier this year, and she was ready to go.
“I was just going for it,” Lyon said. “I’m pretty stoked about it. This is my second year racing Junior Olympics. It’s exciting to have one in my final race of my final year of Junior Olympics.”
Steamboat’s Vreni Lupear took fourth in 1:28.33, followed by Aspen’s Ilona Schwarz and Gabby Gencheff of Great Lakes (Mich.). Buck Hill’s Marlee Gartner, Breckenridge’s Katy Harris, Steamboat’s Serina Kidd and Buck Hill’s Erin Olejnik rounded out the top 10.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.