VanHee wins slalom; Huskies second
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” As any ski racers knows, to be on the podium takes skill, but to be on the top step sometimes requires a little luck.
Battle Mountain’s Kelly VanHee had one great runs, followed by a good start number, and another great run to win a high school slalom race Friday on Beaver Creek’s Bear Trap.
“For the second run, I ran 27th, which is my lucky number,” VanHee said.
After her first run, VanHee was more than a second out of first, but put down a ripping run that stood as the final three skiers in the top 30 came down.
“I was really focused,” VanHee said. “I woke up this morning, had a good breakfast and thought about my race, and I think that helps.”
VanHee took advantage of some of this week’s snowfall before her final pass.
“Coming down from the top of the chair, there is powder, so it’s definitely a good way to warm up your legs a little because it was a long course that takes your breath away.”
Battle Mountain’s Jamie Lee Roberts, fresh off a Nordic race on Thursday, was fifth, and the Huskies took second on the girls side. Anna Schmitt rounded out the scoring for Battle Mountain, moving up a few spots on her final run to take 24th.
The Eagle Valley girls used some personal-best finishes to take fifth. Sophomore Shanna Zoch, who was in 18th after her first run, took 12th to lead the Devils, while Nicole Luczkow moved from 28th to finish 17th. Katie Brandes took 27th.
Vail Mountain was ninth, with Taylor Campbell 23rd, Axie Navas 30th and Lucy Sackbauer 40th.
Roberts, who is currently in the lead for Skimeister, took 25th in her first skate race Thursday (second among Skimeister), and followed it up with the top Skimeister finish Friday.
“I did better than I thought I’d do,” Roberts said of her Nordic race ” her second ever. “I’m starting to like it a lot. It’s something new and I’m always up for a new challenge.”
Another challenge for Roberts is to back off a little in alpine races.
“It’s frustrating this year because with Skimeister, I have to finish and just be ahead of the other Skimeisters, and can’t go all out. I think the end result will be a lot better than winning these races.”
Zoch and Luczkow had to be extra sharp on their first runs, as they went later-than-normal in the start order.
“It was kind of hard for me and Nicole to come from the back, but I think we did great,” said Zoch, who had a career-best finish. “Our coach was very smart and reversed the order, so we can give some of the middle girls a chance to qualify for state with us. A lot of the girls are definitely coming forward ” they want it.”
Even before Luczkow had to battle the course, she had to fight to get out of her team jacked as her bib number quickly approached.
“It had been working fine, but the zipper broke and it got stuck at the top,” she said. “We had to improvise.”
Scott Turnipseed, who was helping Eagle Valley coach Francois Nanin, cut Luczkow free from her jacket.
Luczkow wasn’t phased at all by the incident. The course, on the other hand, was a bit daunting.
“I ran 89th and it was pretty scary,” Luczkow said, referring to ruts on the course. “I’m really happy (with 17th).”
While the girls’ second run was a flip 30 , where the top 30 racers start in reverse order, the boys were afforded no such luxury. Due to a timing system problem, the boys had to take their second run in the same order as they ran the first.
“It was just unfortunate because there was a timing errors and there is nothing you can do about it,” said Vail Mountain’s Jens Kjesbo. “A lot of people don’t like it because they would have had a lot better start the second run. I think I overall had a really good day. The team had a really good day, especially the guys.”
The Gore Rangers saw current Skimeister leader Sean Woods tied for 11th. Charlie Grant was 17th and John McKenna took 23rd. Woods took fourth in Thursday’s Nordic race.
“That turned out the way I wanted it to,” he said. “I was really happy with today.”
While most Skimeisters can afford to have an off race or two, as not all races count, Woods has almost no room for error.
“I definitely have to play it safe because I’m going to be gone for two of the alpine races and two Nordic races,” he said.
Battle Mountain’s Davey DeChant led his team in 14th, with Ike Sheppard in 24th and Charlie Barry in 25th. J.T. Schmitt was 32nd.
“I wanted to push it and do good at the home race,” DeChant said. “I thought I did well on the first run, but on the second one, I didn’t come around. But I qualified (for state) and the next race I can push it.”
Vail Christian’s Corey Seeman ” who played defensive line for his football team ” had two solid runs to take 11th. Sebastian Pierce-Duran was 55th and Matthew Myers was 57th to round out the scoring for the Saints.
Eagle Valley’s Zach Bailey cracked into the top 30, taking 27th, while Cody Coulter was 42nd and Matt Lucas was 51st.
For some skiers, like Eagle Valley’s Brandes, Friday presented a good opportunity to secure a spot in the postseason.
“I haven’t qualified yet (for state) at all,” she said. “This is my senior year, and I finally qualified. My goal was to finish, too, because last race I didn’t.”
While some of Battle Mountain’s top finishers from last race weren’t around, Anna Schmitt, stepped up to the plate to score for the Huskies.
“It’s nice when the Ski Club kids aren’t here because you have a chance of doing better,” she said. “I made flip 30, which is really exciting. But it’s nice when they are here, because they can give you pointers.”
Vail Christian’s Ian Hamina, one day after qualifying for state in Nordic, in what was only his second Nordic race, missed out on going two-for-two.
“I wanted to qualify today, but I fell on my second run,” Hamina said. “I kind of stressed out. I was on the edge of the qualifying spot, so I felt like I had to go faster and I slipped.”
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Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.