Vail slalom racers dominate National Performance Series
NATIONAL PERFORMANCE SERIES
Slalom races, Burke Mountain, Vermont
1) Berit Frischholz
2) Ainsley Proffit
3) Maddox Gayer
6) Caroline Jones
7) Kaitlyn Harsch
1) Allie Resnick
2) Caroline Jones
3) Cleo Braun
6) Tegan Wold
7) Kaitlyn Harsch
8) Ainsley Proffit
10) Maddox Gayer
1) Zane Worrell
2) Kellen Kinsella
1) Zane Worrell
3) Kellen Kinsella
VAIL — Taking 10 of 12 slalom podium positions Wednesday, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail is certainly meeting their goal of shining in the National Performance Series.
The series is part of a new effort from the United States Ski and Snowboard Association to strengthen and broaden the national junior pipeline, USSA Alpine Development Director Chip Knight said upon its inception in 2016. Ski and Snowboard Club Vail immediately put the National Performance Series on their radar as an important measure of the club’s depth.
“This was on my calendar back in August,” said U-16 girls coach Michael Fairbrother. “It’s certainly a performance peak in our schedule where we really want to perform.”
On Wednesday, the slalom portion of the under-16 National Performance Series was dominated by Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. The day saw two slalom competitions — Ski and Snowboard Club Vail girls took the top three spots and boys had two of the top three in both competitions.
“We had been building up up until this point and were really just really trying to execute,” Fairbrother said. “Podium aside, we also had a lot of other athletes in the top-10, so it’s a real testament to the program.”
OUTSIDE our REGION
Fairbrother said the National Performance Series is a good way of seeing what type of athletes the U.S. will produce on the world stage in three to five years. Youth ski racing in the U.S. can be a largely regional endeavor, with athletes rarely competing against those from other areas of the country outside of nationals. This year’s under-16 National Performance Series athletes were selected based on their performance at U-16 nationals in Snowbird in April of 2016.
“It’s really bringing the country together with this top U-16 group,” Fairbrother said of the National Performance Series.
The slalom and giant slalom competitions taking place this week in Vermont are the second and final under-16 National Performance Series events of the season. The first was in December at Copper Mountain and included a giant slalom race where Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes took four of the six available podium spots.
‘COMFORTABLE ON ICE’
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s top performers in the National Performance Series will qualify for the 7 Nations Cup to be held in Hinterreit, Austria this coming February. Seven boys and seven girls are expected to represent the U.S. at that event.
Just one decade ago, says boys U-16 coach Johnny Kemp, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athletes may not have been as prepared for competition outside of the Rocky Mountain region and the U.S. as they are today.
“I could have been on the hill with hockey skates today,” Kemp said of the conditions on the slalom course at Burke Mountain in Vermont, where Wednesday’s competition took place. “The fact that we can now, with the resources we have at Ski Club Vail, we can prepare our kids to come out here and be comfortable on the ice, with the injection system at Vail, and basically bring the East to Colorado, it’s a huge step for these kids.”
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s snow injection system, an improvement brought to Vail in 2009, has turned the Golden Peak Race Arena into one of the top training venues in the world.
“They can jump over to Europe, or come out East, and you can have an ice rink out there,” he said. “We’re spoiled in Colorado.”
The National Performance Series will wrap up on Friday with two more Giant Slalom races.