Diamond Peak skiers impress in Wild West Series
Sugar Bowl Resort hosted the first Wild West Series of the season this past Friday through Sunday.
The U16 only series includes three slalom, three giant slalom and three super giant slalom races as part of a qualifying series for the U16 Junior Championships, which will be held in March at Mt. Bachelor in Oregon.
On Friday, Diamond Peak Ski Team (DPST) racers Payton Norton and Winston Pretti earned podium finishes in the first GS qualifier.
Norton won the event, held on Montgomery Run — an easy, flowing run with a consist pitch and a long flat. Norton posted a combined time of 1:51:45, while Pretti placed third with a time of 1:53.36. Sugar Bowl Hiroki Tominaga was second.
DPST almost had a sweep of the podium, as Noah Cleary was in third after the first run but struggled with the line and blew out part way down the course on the second run. But their teammate, Tommy Corcoron, showed the team’s depth with a 17th-place finish.
On Saturday, it was all about Pretti, as he had no trouble taking the win (1:32.34) over Squaw’s Will Belden (1:32.92) and Noah Williams (1:33.47).
Although it was a tough day for most of the DPST boys, Pretti’s teammate Nick Fischer consistently finished all three days in the top 30, with a 24th, 25th and 29th.
Sunday was again slalom, and DPST was unable to secure a top-five finish. Corcoron, however, followed up a crash the day with a 12th-place finish.
“Our boys are so close to sweeping their age class,” said DPST Coach Mats Boehnke. “We had three in the top five first run on Friday, but mistakes were made that took them out. The boys then made costly mistakes in the slalom, but many of them are now making the flip … they’re getting better every day.”
The DPST girls also held their ground, with Belle Johnson cleaning up by placing consistently in the top five in all three races, starting with a fifth place in Friday’s GS.
But she wasn’t done. Saturday, Johnson stormed out of the gate to place third in the slalom (1:25.67) only to lose to two National Training Group girls who traveled from Colorado to participate.
Keely Cashman, formerly of Squaw, was first (1:21.98) and Jennie Symons placed second (1:23.75). Johnson’s DPST teammates also earned valuable qualifying points, with Madison Idso placing 15th (GS) and 17th (SL) and Laurel Taylor 17th (GS) and 20th (SL).
Upcoming athletes Rachel Meyer and Allena Thompson also gained ground with top 30 finishes over the weekend.
“There is so much depth to the U16 North Series age group. For our small team to have most of its kids in the top third of their age class is a accomplishment in itself,” said coach Raquel Norton. “I am so proud of all of them. Even though the standings don’t show it, we have athletes that will be in the running for Junior Champs once they minimize some of the mistakes they’re making. Keep a look out for our team.”
DPST athletes will travel to the second Wild West Series races when Snow Summit hosts two GS races and one slalom from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.
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