With time to spare, Eagle Co. team wins
Vail, CO Colorado
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado ” In a sport where hundredths of a second can decide titles, Jenny Banner and Kelly VanHee were ahead by a few centuries Thursday.
The Battle Mountain alpine racers finished one and two at the state championships slalom in Steamboat Springs, leading the Huskies to a big team win.
“Jenny had almost a half-second lead going into her second run,” Battle Mountain coach Simon Marsh said. “She didn’t have to go that fast, but she did. She went for it, and it’s a good thing. You can’t hold back.”
When VanHee finished her second run of the night on Howelsen Hill, she held a two-second lead, with Banner as the only racer left to go.
“I looked up and saw Jenny coming down, and she was killing it,” VanHee said.
Banner’s second-run time of 43.05 seconds was more than two seconds faster than VanHee’s and gave her a combined time of 1 minute, 24.1 seconds.
“I was excited,” Banner said. “The lights were on, and I knew it was my last slalom run, maybe of my life.”
Jamie Lee Roberts took sixth for Battle Mountain, and the Huskies scored 174 points, 12 more than second-place Steamboat Springs.
“It was just great,” Marsh said. “We had some really good skiing.”
Battle Mountain was second in the season’s first slalom, which VanHee won, and placed first in the second slalom, which saw Banner on top of the podium.
“All the girls were going into the race feeling like we were going to come out strong, so I think, personally, I just tried to stay calm,” VanHee said. “During practice this morning, I was a little nervous. I tried to keep my cool and said, ‘It’s just another race.'”
Vail Mountain had two girls in the top 15 and took fifth overall.
“It was a blast,” said the Gore Rangers’ Lucy Sackbauer, who took 13th. “It was a really good vibe. Everyone was going for it, and I tried to go hard on my second run. It was hard competition.”
Joely Denkinger was 15th for Vail Mountain, while Axie Navas rounded out the scoring in 38th.
Eagle Valley’s Nicole Luczkow led her team in 19th, six spots ahead of teammate Katie Brandes. Kelsey Elwood was 33rd, and the Devils placed seventh.
The Huskies, who won all three regular-season giant slalom races, hope to continue the trend for today’s competition.
“We want to win both (state) races,” VanHee said. “We have an addition to the team for Friday’s giant slalom ” Marisa Ammaturo ” and that’s a positive thing.”
Battle Mountain’s Zachary Ziolkowski led all local boys finishers in fifth place, helping his team take fifth overall. The Huskies’ Davey DeChant was 14th, with teammate Ike Sheppard in 29th.
With four racers in the top 25, Vail Mountain finished seventh, just one point behind Aspen. The Gore Rangers’ Axel Spaeh, who tied for ninth, didn’t let a bad back stop him from picking up one of his best high school finishes.
“I’m still recovering from that a bit,” Spaeh said of his injury. “But it may have actually helped. It put me in a better position to take it down the hill.”
Vail Mountain’s Jens Kjesbo took 17th, while teammate Sean Woods rounded out the scoring in 23rd. Charlie Grant was 24th.
“It’s great to be here at state and have everyone finish so well,” Spaeh said.
Cody Coulter led Eagle Valley in 31st, and Ian Hamina was Vail Christian’s top finisher in 44th.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@
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