Diamond Peak skiers kick off season at Mammoth
Diamond Peak and Sierra Nevada College alpine racers kicked off the 2014-15 season with several age-class wins over the weekend.
Both teams traveled to Mammoth Mountain to participate in the Clifford Mann Classic Open races, where athletes as young as 14 competed in giant slalom.
As Diamond Peak Ski Area, home hill to both teams, prepares for their opening date in December, athletes from DPST and SNC traveled down to Mammoth a few days early to get on snow and in gates to ready themselves for the weekend races.
Athletes arrived at the hill Saturday to find winds in excess of 100 mph, which shut down the majority of Mammoth’s lifts. So Saturday’s races were postponed to Sunday.
On Sunday, athletes awoke to blue skies and firm conditions, with an action-packed schedule of two races each (four race runs) for both genders, with the females starting their first run at 9:30 a.m. SNC ladies were unstoppable by securing the top five spots in both races.
In the first race, SNC’s Mihaela Kosi topped the podium with a combined time of 1:06.69. SNC teammates rounded out the top five with Johanna Tikkanen second (1:06.73), Melissa Daniels third (1:06.82), Henriette Haug fourth (1:07.45) and Caroline Klaesson fifth (1:07.45).
For the U18 ladies, DPST athlete Annika Hansen raced to victory and was followed by Mammoth’s Katherine Brown in second and DPST athletes Erica Kennedy in third and Becka Padgett in fourth. Aly Kennedy did not finish.
Second-year U16 DPST athlete Madison Idso stormed out of the gate placing sixth overall, winning the U16 age class. Idso (1:07.97) and Belle Johnson (second) went 1-2 on the U16 podium. Sydney Snelbaker of Mammoth was third. DPST athletes Laurel Taylor, Rachel Meyer and Allena Thompson placed sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
“Our focus was to come down to Mammoth, get some training in and work on our starts,” said DPST coach Mats Boehnke. “I was blown away by how well our kids skied.”
SNC men had a total sweep of their field with Finlay Neeson winning with a combined time of 1:03.68, followed by his teammates Jaka Jazbec in second (1:04.25), Erik Lund third (1:04.28), Viking Roald fourth (1:04.31) and Mammoth’s Alex Colby breaking into the top five in 1:04.45.
First-year U16 DPST athlete Payton Norton put down a couple of fast runs to place ninth overall (1:05.97), winning the U16 class.
The U16 men, led by Norton and Winston Pretti (second), gave solid performances as did teammates Noah Cleary, Tommy Corcoran, Thomas Mercogliano, Nick Fischer, Jeff Miller and Sebastian Fouassier.
Another special award, the Hard Charger, is given to the athlete who makes the largest improvement from where he starts in the race to where he finishes. The Hard Charger was awarded to Tommy Corcoron.
“We had some great skiing today, but what really made my day was seeing Tommy being awarded the Hard Charger … not only once but twice,” said DPST Coach Raquel Norton. “A lot of these kids go season to season without getting an award, so to be recognized for their hard work is awesome.”
SNC took charge again in the second race.
This time, Melissa Daniels won with a combined time of 1:07.69. SNC girls traded places with Mihaela Kosi second (1:07.84), Caroline Klaesson third (1:09.40), Francesca Curtolo fourth (1:09.72) and Henriette Haug fifth (1:09.86). DPST saw both Erica Kennedy (U18) and Belle Johnson (U16) atop the podium with both girls winning their respective age classes.
With Kennedy’s win, teammates Becka Padgett and Aly Kennedy sealed fourth and sixth for the U18s. Katherine Brown (MMST) and Sabrina Futrall (NRST) finished second and third. Johnson took the win, followed by Taylor in fourth, Meyer ninth and Thompson 10th.
In race two for the men, SNC athlete Erik Lund took the win with a combined time of 1:06.00 and was followed by teammate Finlay Neeson in second (1:06.16).
Mammoth’s Alex Colby snuck in between the SNC crew with a third-place finish (1:06.46). SNC athletes Elias Stuerz (1:07.17) and Viking Roald (1:07.38) finished fourth and fifth.
DPST U16 men had a full sweep of the podium in race two. They were again led by Norton (1:09.79) and Pretti (1:11.17) with teammate Noah Cleary rounding out the podium with a third-place finish (1:11.96). DPST also saw good results from Corcoran (eighth), Mercogliano (12th), Fischer (14th), Miller (15th) and Fouassier (19th). Corcoran and SVST’s Mitchell Osborne tied for the Hard Charger award in race two.
Diamond Peak athletes will be back at it again with slalom races Dec. 6 and 7 at Heavenly.