Vail ski racers take on junior national championships
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s men’s FIS team culminated its season at the U.S. Junior Alpine Championships at Cannon Mountain and Waterville Valley in New Hampshire this week. While the team has a handful of races remaining this spring, none carry quite the weight of the junior national championships, which serves as the final nationwide benchmark of the season.
The series kicked off with a super-G at the Mittersill speed venue at Cannon Mountain, followed by giant slalom and slalom races at Waterville Valley.
In the super-G, SSCV alum Bridger Gile scored a huge result taking third behind Tristan Lane and Jimmy Krupka. With strong performances throughout the season, including an invite to World Juniors, Gile is poised to earn a spot on the U.S. Ski Team next year. Fellow SSCV alum Jacob Dilling, also in the hunt for a national team bid, took eighth. Current SSCV athletes Dashiell Prince-Judd and Brendan Keane weren’t far behind in ninth and 10th. In 29th, Zane Worrell was another strong finisher coming back from knee surgery in December to make his return to racing in the latter portion of the season.
After his podium in the super-G, Gile doubled down with another strong result in the giant slalom at Waterville Valley tying for second behind the day’s winner, Tim Gavett. Dilling also earned a nice result in sixth. SSCV athlete Kellen Kinsella moved up in the first run from the late 30s to 12th position, finishing the day 14th overall. Tucker Strauch also came through with a nice race in 15th.
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The SSCV team had big results in slalom, the final day of racing at the championship, despite some bad luck when a chunk of granite was discovered in the course by none other than SSCV coaching alum Michael Fairbrother.
Kinsella was sitting in third overall after the first run — a huge position for a U19 athlete at junior nationals — and was among the first 25 racers who had to ski two second runs after the rock was uncovered on the course. Max Martin was also a part of that group; he was in third place on the first of two second runs, which was ultimately thrown out. The course was reset; the racers had to re-inspect the new course, and the entire field was forced to run the second run from scratch.
Unfortunately, Martin was a DNF in that second outing, but SSCV went on to land some great results with Gile in fifth, Dilling in sixth, Kinsella in seventh, alum Jack Keane in ninth, Brendan Keane in 12th, Prince-Judd in 14th. Six of the top-15 finishers were current or former athletes of SSCV, more than any other club.
“We had a good season,” said men’s FIS coach Max Lamb. “For my group, it’s kind of a younger group of dudes. As a young group, they did really well. They made really good strides in their skiing throughout the year and put themselves in a pretty good place going into next season.”
Brendan Keane, Kinsella, Prince-Judd have all been accepted to Dartmouth College and will have to weigh their options in the coming months. Gile is expected to make the U.S. Ski Team with Kinsella and Dilling also under consideration.
Geoff Mintz is the communications coordinator for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.