Young ski racers enjoy huge success at the J5 Finale
The youngest ski racers from the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail competitive age group were all smiles after a weekend at the J5 Finale at Sunlight – outside of Glenwood Springs. Conditions could not have been more perfect, said coach Rika Moore, with blue-bird days, sunshine and perfectly hard snow. With 84 girls racing and 96 boys competing, the courses held up perfectly.
Young athletes ranging in age from seven to 10 years old came from over 15 different ski areas – as far away as Flagstaff, Arizona, Taos, Telluride, Aspen, Summit County and Steamboat.
Vail sent a total of 14 athletes, including Morgan Houtsma, Abby Dorfman, Katheryn Irwin, Kayltlyn Samuelsen, Eva Spaeh, Dylan Alverez, Scott Houtsma, Winston Heuga, Dan Graebel, Luke Graebel, Kyle Koenig, Alex Leever, Sean McCormick and Thomas Walsh.
In this USSA sanctioned event, the kids skied two giant slalom races on Saturday on- Joslin and two slalom races on Sunday on a run named “Sunking.”
The terrain at Sunlight makes this race such a fun event, according to coach Gus Pernetz, the kids love skiing the GS, which has sections called “toilet bowl,” a natural halfpipe type dip in the slope. This makes for interesting course sets and more fun for the athletes.
The Ski and Snowboard Club Vail kids had a ball at the event and brought home the hardware to boot.
On the girls side, Kaytlyn Samuelson ruled the races with 4 second place finishes, Eva Spaeh surprised the fans with third through 6 place finishes, Abby Dorfman had top 10 finishes, with her best on the podium in third, and Katheryn Irwin skied to top 10 and a best in fifth on the GS day. Morgan Houtsma improved her time and skied to a respectable 22 finish out of 84 girls.
The boys showed strong results with Sean McComick leading the pack with 2 second-place finishes – first and third in the slalom. McCormick was king of the hill Sunday and beat his second-place competitor by over a second.
Thomas Walsh was the big winner if USSA recognized the J6 age group separately from ages 7 and 8; he would have won that age group, and skied to top 10 finishes in all races – with a best finish in slalom – with a fourth place. Kyle Koenig had top 10 finishes, so did Danny Graebel.
Alex Leever, another J6 competitor earned a top 25 spot. Dylan Alverez finished with respectable placings in the 30s followed by Winston Heuga, Luke Graebel and young Scotty Houtsma.
These young athletes have trained all season and showed true character and dedication and a love for ski racing. For this event the J5 Finale they really pulled out all the stops and competed to their best abilities.