Twenty-four young SVSEF cross-country ski racers and coaches Kelley Sinnott, Abbie Harris, Ashley Wells, and Margii Driscoll headed up to Whitefish, Mt. and Glacier for a weekend of racing Feb 24-27.
The long drive was worth it for two fun-filled days of racing and four events. Here's a report from Kelley Sinnott, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Head Prep Team coach:
The Western States Youth Ski Festival is an annual event in the West that moves every two years. Races are designed around the younger skiers who often get overlooked at other races. Sun Valley skiers always look forward to the weekend.
Temperatures were expected to be cold and they were. Below-zero temperatures greeted the coaches and skiers and on Saturday, Feb. 26. The temperature rose to 0 in time for the J6s to start their 1-kilometer races, and race officials say the temperatures got as high as 5 over the course of the day.
The cold and overcast weather didn't hold SVSEF racers back.
In the skate race the four SVSEF Devo team competitors put up great results. Cash Dart from the Quigley Devo Team took first in the J5 men by nine seconds, Tully Jones-Wilkins was a strong 11th, Ella Wolter (J5G) of Lake Creek Devo was 2nd beating the 3rd place finisher by almost 30 seconds, and Chloe Tanous also of LC Devo rounded out the J5 Girls podium with a strong 5th place.
For the Prep Team Skiers the skate race results also showed a strong team of 5th-8th graders, Logan Jones-Wilkins kept his strong skating season going with a 2nd place in the 2 km race only 6 seconds off the leader.
Taylor Koth rounded out the J4 boys podium with a strong 5th place, and new guy Keene Morowitz showed just how much he has improved over the season with an 8th.
SVSEF J3 girls Maddy Watts and Annika Landis continued what has been a strong season in the 3km skate race with Annika taking 2nd and Maddy 5th, Victoria Castellano-Wood placed a respectable 16th against a strong field.
Sun Valley's biggest group of racers over the weekend was the J3 boys with 11 guys competing in the 3 km race. Tom Gillespie once again led the men placing his first top 10 skate result of the season with a strong 9th, followed closely by teammates Zach Williams in 10th and Cameron Bingham in 12th. Ben Brunelle, Theo Castellano-Wood, Lukas DeWolfe, Carter Ros, Jacob Truxal, Alex Feldman, and Xavier Hammerele weren't far off the pace placing 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd 24th and 30th respectively.
Cheyanne Stopol represented SV's lone J2/Novice racer posting a strong 2nd place in the 3km race.
The cold Saturday wasn't over for SVSEF racers as the day had two more events—an obstacle course and a flying downhill.
In the obstacle course skiers navigated tunnels, a bamboo forest, narrow steep uphills, a snow covered bench (for a time bonus) and slalom gates.
It turned out that practicing at home was an advantage for the SVSEF racers who posted strong finishes across all age classes.
Annika Landis continued her strong weekend with a win less than four seconds over teammate Maddy Watts. Cameron Bingham posted his best result of the weekend also with a win not even a full second over 2nd place, and teammate Lukas DeWolfe broke into the podium with an impressive 4th.
Taylor Koth and Keene Morowitz came up with another strong performance in the J4 boys Obstacle Course placing 2nd and 3rd respectively. Ella Wolter was 3rd in the J5 Girls earning her more points toward the overall, and Cash Dart made it an impressive 2 for 2 winning the J5 boys category with Tully Jones-Wilkins not far off the podium in 7th.
Cheyanne Stopol placed another strong 2nd in the J2/novice girls division.
In the Flying Downhill SVSEF racers donned their puffy coats trying to keep warm with dropping temperatures.
Maddy Watts and Tom Gillespie were the top SVSEF J3 finishers of the race each posting a strong 5th place. Cheyanne Stopol kept her strong skiing going posting her third 2nd place of the day. Taylor Koth and Logan Jones-Wilkins showed that SV J4 boys don't hold back in any weather placing 2nd and 4th respectively with Keene just missing the podium in a strong 6th place.
Ella Wolter and Chloe Tanous also proved that the stinging cold shouldn't hold you back, whipping down the hill to 2nd and 3rd places. Cash Dart placed 2nd in the race proving that, despite training at Quigley Nordic with limited hills, he can still fly downhill.
Saturday proved to be a strong SVSEF day across all age classes in all three events and earned SV a leg up in the overall team competition.
Sunday at Whitefish might have been a warmer day of racing but 2-3 inches of new snow in the track, with snow still falling didn't make for the best classic conditions.
Once again though the weather wouldn't hold the SVSEF racers back, each skier stepped off the bus ready to ski and ski hard!
Annika Landis and Maddy Watts didn't hold back in their 3 km races placing 1st and 2nd in the J3 girls. Victoria Castellano-Wood pushed through some pain and found herself finishing a very strong 13th and Cheyanne Stopol made it a set of silvers for the weekend placing 2nd again in her J2/novice 3km race.
Theo Castellano-Wood showed himself once again to be a strong classic skier and despite a ski mix up before the start, he led the team with a 12th just ahead of teammate Tom Gillespie in 13th.
In the J4 boys race Taylor Koth continued his strong racing placing 2nd in the 2km classic race earning himself more points toward the overall.
In the J5 girls category Ella Wolter was 5th and Chloe Tanous was 8th. Cash Dart took a bronze for the day finishing the 1km classic race just 2 tenths out of 2nd.
With the weekend of racing over and a 10-hour drive ahead of them, SVSEF racers looked toward the overall results hoping to best rival the Bozeman team in the overall team category. With 10 more skiers racing Bozeman was the top team of the weekend taking the overall trophy with our own SVSEF team placing just behind them in 2nd.
In the age group overalls Annika Landis took first for the J3 girls, Maddy Watts was 3rd, and Cheyanne Stopol was 2nd for the J2/novice girls.
Cameron Bingham tied for 4th in the J3 boys overall and Taylor Koth tied for 2nd overall in the J4 boys. Ella Wolter took home the overall silver medal for the J5 girls, and Cash Dart made it back to back overall wins with his 2nd overall gold in two years.
The main focus of the Western States Youth Ski Festival has never been winning, it is always about having fun, working hard and meeting new people.
In the opinion of the Sun Valley coaches that is exactly what this group 24 SVSEF skiers did—they skied fast, worked hard and had fun.
And if they gave an award for making new friends Sun Valley would definitely taken home the gold!
Devo triathlon results from Lake Creek
The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Development teams from Lake Creek and Quigley Canyon held their season-ending Devo Triathlon Saturday, March 5 on the Lake Creek trails. Results follow:
J4 (ages 10-11) boys
Obstacle course: 1—Jorgen Lawrence 1:23. 2—Dane Thompson 1:31 and Landon Nurge 1:31. 4—Joe Hall 1:47. 5—Zachary Olenick 1:57.
Downhill: 1—Jorgen Lawrence 1:49.6. 2—Joe Hall 1:54.6. 3—Dane Thompson 1:57.9. 4—Landon Nurge 2:02.2. 5—Zachary Olenick 2:10.5.
Skate: 1—Landon Nurge 4:26. 2—Dane Thompson 4:35. 3—Joe Hall 4:39. 4—Jorgen Lawrence 5:06. 5—Zachary Olenick 5:16.
Obstacle course: 1—Lilian Brunelle 1:31. 2—Leah Thayer 1:42. 3—Emily Thayer 1:48. 4—Sarah Truxal 1:55 and Ellie Gorham 1:55.
Downhill: 1—Lilian Brunelle 1:43.2. 2—Sarah Truxal 1:54.2. 3—Emily Thayer 2:10.3. 4—Jessica Thomas 2:12.1. 5—Leah Thayer 2:21.0.
J5 (ages 8-9) boys
Obstacle course: 1—Johnny Hagenbuch 1:21. 2—Jake Gorham 1:28. 3—Fletcher Stumph 1:31. 4—Davis Ros 1:47 and Buey Grossman 1:47.
Downhill: 1—Johnny Hagenbuch 1:48.0. 2—Fletcher Stumph 1:59.5. 3—Davis Ros 2:01.5. 4—Buey Grossman 2:04.4. 5—Luke Dean 2:04.8.
Skate: 1—Johnny Hagenbuch 3:26. 2—Fletcher Stumph 3:48. 3—Buey Grossman 4:03. 4—Davis Ros 4:07. 5—Luke Dean 4:10.
Obstacle course: 1—Payton Bacca 1:18. 2—Jenna Nurge 1:30. 3—Kate Horowitz 1:41. 4—Ella Wolter 1:42. 5—Eva Grover 1:47.
Downhill: 1—Lily Fitzgerald 1:35.8. 2—Payton Bacca 1:47.6. 3—Ella Wolter 1:57.3. 4—Chloe Tanous 2:04.5. 5—Jenna Nurge 2:09.5.
Skate: 1—Ella Wolter 3:24. 2—Lily Fitzgerald 3:30. 3—Payton Bacca 3:38. 4—Chloe Tanous 3:59. 5—Laine Allison 4:11.
J6 (ages 6-7) boys
Obstacle course: 1—William DeWolfe 1:51. 2—Alex Shafer 1:54. 3—Kye Harned 1:58. 4—Nils Huss 2:12. 5—Ridge Dirksmeier 2:16.
Downhill: 1—Oliver Wiedemann 2:29.8. 2—William DeWolfe 2:34.0. 3—Ridge Dirksmeier 2:35.3. 4—Kye Harned 2:45.2. 5—Alex Shafer 2:49.4.
Skate: 1—William DeWolfe 3:07. 2—Oliver Wiedemann 3:22. 3—Ridge Dirksmeier 3:31. 4—Alex Shafer 3:41. 5—Kye Harned 4:06.
Obstacle course: 1—Anhwei Kirk 2:17. 2—Lily Hogan 2:25. 3—Lyla Maxwell 3:28.
Downhill: 1—Anhwei Kirk 2:25.1. 2—Lily Hogan 2:41.9. 3—Crosby Boe 3:21.2. 4—Lyla Maxwell 3:39.4.
Skate: 1—Anhwei Kirk 3:51. 2—Lily Hogan 3:54. 3—Crosby Boe 4:42. 4—Lyla Maxwell 5:17.