Truckee area skiers have big weekend at Far West finals

Preston O’Brien races to a second-place finish in boys’ U14 slalom at Sugar Bowl on Friday, March 30. O’Brien would win the slalom event the following day, in the U14 Plus division. For more race photos visit
Courtesy of Harry Lefrak / Lefrak Photography.

Hundreds of alpine racers gathered at a trio of local ski resorts last weekend for the four-day Far West Tech Finals and U12 Championships.

Racing began on Friday, March 30, at Sugar Bowl for the U14 slalom championships, where Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy’s Jack Schaffner led a team sweep of the top four places on the squad’s home snow.

Schaffner finished the event with a total time of 1 minute, 21.39 seconds. Teammates Preston O’Brien (1:22.05), Isaac Mozen (1:22.46), and Ben Eisenstat (1:24.87) were next for Sugar Bowl.

On the girls’ side, Snow Summit Race Team’s (Big Bear, Calif.) Elle Williams tied for first place with Sugar Bowl’s Sophia Staudenmayer, with each competitor finishing with a combined time of 1:32.29. Sugar Bowl skiers Elizabeth Scott (1:33.54), and Anna Zaruby (1:34.30) were next.

Racing continued the following day at Sugar Bowl with the U14 Plus slalom round, and again skiers from Sugar Bowl put on an impressive display.

O’Brien returned to the slopes to compete in the event following a second-place finish the day before, and captured first place behind the day’s two fastest runs. He’d finish with a total time of 1:26.31, which was more than four seconds faster than second place teammate Kazimir Sosnkowski (1:30.65). Diamond Peak’s Matthew Smallhouse (1:30.80) was third.

On the girls’ side, Williams picked up her second straight win, finishing with a total time of 1:28.21. Sugar Bowl skiers Faith Cooper (1:28.60) and Olivia Omar (1:28.78) were next.

Racing then moved to Northstar on Sunday, April 1, for the U19 giant slalom finals.

Kirkwood’s Sean Dunkleman took first place in the event with a total time of 2:12.76. Dunkleman, a runner-up at this year’s high school slalom state championships, posted the day’s fastest time in his second run to edge Squaw Valley’s Brandon Leitner (2:13.14). Squaw Valley skier Guthrie Goss (2:13.63) was third.

On the girls’ side, Sugar Bowl’s Anna Zaruby took home the title with a combined time of 2:13.77. Mammoth skiers Erica Lynch (2:14.54) and Sasha Mueller (2:15.44) were next.

The Far West Tech Finals then concluded on Monday, April 2, at Northstar with the U19 giant slalom event. Squaw Valley’s Leitner led a sweep of the top three positions for the team, finishing with a total time of 2:16.27 to win the title. Luca Robillard (2:16.47) and Goss (2:16.83) were next for Squaw.

Diamond Peak’s Jasmine Arrison picked up the win on the girls’ side with a combined time of 2:15.86, just edging Mammoth’s Lynch by 0.05 seconds. Sugar Bowl’s Zaruby was next with a total time of 2:16.02.

U12 Championships

Far West Skiing’s U12 Championships were also held last weekend at Squaw Valley with super-G, slalom, giant slalom, and parallel slalom events.

The competition began on Thursday, March 29 with giant slalom. Squaw Valley’s Eric McCoy Hudson picked up a giant slalom title on the first day with a total time of 1:39.81 to edge Sugar Bowl’s Pierce Friel (1:40.22).

On the girls’ side, Squaw Valley’s Lylah Kelly finished in first place with a total time of 1:40.42 to beat out Mammoth’s Piper Wilkison (1:40.96)

Racing continued at Squaw the following day with super-G, and Sugar Bowl’s Friel captured the championship with a time of 41.19 to top Squaw’s Oscar Whelan (41.35) and Hudson (41.39).

Kelly took home the win on the girls’ side with a time of 41.44, followed by fellow Sugar Bowl skier Madison Vieara-McCarthy (42.74).

The racers then returned the following day to compete in slalom. Jake Buchanan dominated the race and led off a sweep of the top four places for Squaw Valley skiers on the boys’ side, finishing with the day’s two fastest runs and a total time of 1:30.06. Whelan (1:31.90), Florian Standteiner (1:31.99), and Prince Ilano (1:32.69) rounded out Squaw’s top finishers.

Kirkwood’s Autumn Ellingford shook things up on the girls’ side with a total time of 1:29.54 for a first-place finish. Alpine Meadows’ Tatum Akers (1:30.32) was next, followed by Squaw’s Vieara-McCarthy (1:31.37) in third.

The youngsters then returned on Easter Sunday for the conclusion of the U12 Championships.

Mammoth’s Gregory Gazarian captured the win in parallel slalom with a total time of 44.59 to defeat Squaw’s Hudson by 0.06 seconds. Sugar Bowl’s Carl Ottosson was third with a total time of 44.72.

Squaw’s Vieara-McCarthy closed out her season on the Far West tour with a first-place finish, crossing the line with a total time of 44.33. Teammate Lylah Kelly (45.37) was next, followed by Mammoth’s Wilkison (45.68).

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. Contact him at

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