The Heavenly boys hit the road for the oldest ski race in the west, the Yosemite Winter Club Silver Ski Classic.
The U12 and U14 boys, of the Heavenly Ski and Education Foundation, traveled to Yosemite this past weekend to compete in the Far West Central Series.
Badger Pass, founded in 1928, began hosting the Silver Ski Classic in 1930 as a potential bid for hosting the winter Olympics for the first time in the United States. In fact, it was the chance meeting of Walt Disney and Hannes Schroll that led to the creation of the first chair lift, which was built at Sugar Bowl.
Racers in this historic event compete in two days of slalom racing with the fastest overall times for boys and girls taking home the most coveted trophy in Far West skiing — the Silver Cup. The Silver Cup is awarded to the overall fastest times combined after two days or four runs. The winners’ names are also engraved on the Silver Ski, displayed at the Yosemite Lodge, and include names like Winston Churchill, Kyle Rasmussen and current US Ski Team member Travis Ganong.
Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl brought their top slalom skiers to chase this prestigious award and with a fresh six inches of soft snow the conditions made for a challenging and interesting first day.
The buzz began on Friday. The competing kids learned through Instagram that the Squaw kids were coming, and the Cashman kids had their eye on following in their dad’s Silver Cup footsteps.
The course was set on Wild Cat on Friday night and was closed to training on Friday. A training course was set on Rabbit, but it quickly developed deep ruts in the soft snow. With another three inches accumulating Friday night, the mountain staff worked hard to keep conditions as firm as possible.
Running close to the top of the order, the two Heavenly U12 boys were eager to jump into the course. A steep start bump at the first turn well into the pitch sent racers into the first gate at super G speed.
Exploding out of the start, Gunnar Barnwell hit the top section hard and straight until he hooked a tip in the first flush and was spun off the course. The spill forced him to hike back to the course. Later in the same course, he face planted over the last transition and finished with a disappointing 56:37.
Tyler Madero was up next. He attacked the course, stumbling where Barnwell had hooked a tip, but recovered to cruised over the finish line within a few tenths of the leader, Noa Cashman.
Barnwell’s second run proved to be much better, and his combined 1:34:54 put him in 12th place. Madero’s combined time of 1:11:83 landed him on the podium in second place. The big surprise however was Logan Langemeier, who skied conservatively after hearing most of the field had blown out of the U14 course. He posted a combined time of 1:28:61, landing him on the podium for the first time in third place.
“Logan is one of the hardest working kids on the team so to have this success for him was really a big team success for us,” coach Billy Barnwell said.
After the awards ceremony Saturday night, the kids got to see the majesty of El Captain and Half Dome for the first time. The enjoyment was short lived though, as the team had a four-hour drive to get back to Oakhurst. The boys barely grabbed seven hours sleep, thanks to springing ahead on the clock, before they were back on the road.
The team continued to race against the clock all day on Sunday with Barnwell posting 35.60, just shy of leader Cashman’s 34.80. The time landed Barnwell in fourth place by two hundredths of a second.
Madero fell on his first run and had to hike posting a 49:92. The course on the second day was firm, and many of the racers were still skiing light footed like the day before causing them to slide out.
On the second run the first gate was moved further up the pitch, closer to the start, and used the opposite side of the hill creating a fall away effect toward the gully. Cashman fell on the new course, and it opened the door for Barnwell. The deep pool of talent proved too much, though, and another Squaw Valley skier posted the fastest second run time. It edged Barnwell, who had a combined time of 1:12:40.
Despite Cashman’s fall, his first time of 34:89 was able to hold Barnwell to his second third-place finish in the Central Series.
Madero struggled again on his second run. He hooked a tip in the last transition, but still finishing with the fastest time of the day for the U12 boys at 34:20 putting him in 11th place.
Heavenly’s lone U14 boy, Langemeier, had another great day of ski racing. He posted a 42.16 on his first run and improved almost a full second on his second run. Langemeier finished in fifth place with a combined time of 1:23:90 seconds, a five second improvement to the previous day.
While the Cashman brother and sister duo took home the coveted Silver Cup this year, the Heavenly racers took away some great memories and three podiums.
UP NEXT: The boys will head to Mammoth Mountain’s SG and then on to the Far West finals.