Vail racers use home hill advantage
GOLDEN PEAK – The margin between the top-three times on the downhill course amounted to less than the margin by which most racers’ times were delayed from the layer of fresh snow on the course Tuesday.The top 13- and 14-year-old racers in the region put down their fastest runs of the week Tuesday at the Rocky/Central J3 Junior Olympic downhill at Golden Peak in Vail, and the home team was sure to put its mark on the result sheets.Crested Butte’s John Kemp won the boys’ race in 53.62 seconds, but Vail’s Hunter Schleper was hot on his heels in 54.03. Aspen’s Sam Coffey (54.09) filled the final podium spot and Vail’s Cody Unicume was hundredths of a second off in 54.13.
“I’m happy,” said Schleper, whose older sister, Sarah, will be competing in World Cup finals later this week in Switzerland. “The best thing (about downhill) is the speeds and catching air,” he said. “There’s always an advantage, but it’s expected for us to do well on our home hill.”Winter Park’s Madison Shepard won the girls’ race in 54.03, and Vail’s Christa Ghent, who recently returned from competing in the Topolino Games in Italy, took silver with a time of 55.81, substantially edging out bronze medalist Tesse Maciejko (57.21) of Crested Butte.
“I was really focused at the start today,” said Ghent, who finished the J4 Olympics in third place overall two seasons ago, narrowly missing the qualifying spot for the international Whistler Cup. “It felt really tense at the start. The past few days have been training days and everyone was tense. I also ran during a hail storm.”Ghent has high hopes for this week, and after finishing consistently in the top-10 in last year’s JOs, she is aiming for an all-podium run this week.”My goals for this week would be to try to win every race,” she said. “I know I can. I just have to put my mind to it. I really enjoy racing here. It gives me a big advantage.”
All of the girls skiing for Ski Club Vail finished top-25 in the 60-racer field. Delainey Ackerman landed a sixth-place finish with a time of 57.58, Whitney Setterberg took 14th in 58.34, Jamie Lee Roberts was 15th in 58.61, Jocelyn Irwin was 16th in 58.62 and Tori Lockwood 24th in 59.42.On the boys’ side, where more than 90 racers took to the course, Vail’s Kitt Flowers took 23rd in 56.62.Racing continues today for the Junior Olympics with super-G beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Golden Peak.
Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado