Squaw skiers shine at J3 Topolino Shootout | SierraSun.com

Squaw skiers shine at J3 Topolino Shootout

Add Tenaya Driller’s name to the list of Squaw Valley Alpine skiers to represent the United States at the international level.

Driller, a freshman at North Tahoe High School, captured the top spot among an elite field of 21 girls at the Western Region J3 Topolino Shootout at Mission Ridge Ski Area, Wash., earlier this month. As a result she will represent the United States in the 49th International Children’s ski race at Pinzolo, Italy, from Feb. 13-22, said Lee Schmidt, Driller’s coach at Squaw Valley.

“She’s just now starting to figure it out,” Schmidt said of Driller. “She’s always been in the top group of girls. She got a couple top-10 finishes at Junior Olympics last year, and she’s been working hard on technique and tactics since then.”

Schmidt, who said he has worked with Driller for about five years and has coached ski racing at Squaw Valley for 32 years, also served as head coach of the Far West team that competed in the J3 Topolino Shootout.

The competition included three slalom runs and three giant slalom runs, with each racer’s top two runs in each discipline counted toward the final result.

Only Driller and Eric Haferman of Bozeman, Mont., who placed first in the boys race, will compete for the Western Region J3s (ages 13 and 14) in Italy. They will join the top boy and top girl from both the East and Rocky Central divisions.

Each Topolino Shootout racer first had to qualify at the 2008 Junior Olympics in Bogus Basin, Idaho, Schmidt said.

Driller was one of nine skiers from Far West competing in a field of 21 girls from the Western Region, six of whom ski out of Squaw Valley. Other Western Region divisions besides Far West include the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain, Alaska and Northern.

On the boys’ side of the Topolino Shootout competition, 30 qualified Western Region skiers competed ” 13 from Far West, and five from the Squaw Valley team.

None of the Squaw Valley racers disappointed.

Squaw Valley skier Lena Andrews was right on Driller’s heels, finishing second in the girls’ competition with 68 points to Driller’s 76. They were followed by teammates Madeleine Hall (45 points) in sixth, Allene Kennedy (37) in eighth, Jess Tidd (31) in 11th and Courtney Norton (25) in 13th. Lila Lapanja (47) of Diamond Peak placed fifth, Sugar Bowl’s Grace Dolan (19) was 15th and Mammoth Mountain’s Madeline Riffle (13) was 19th.

In the boys’ competition, Squaw’s Thomas Robles took second place with a score of 80. He was followed by teammates Max Hall (75 points) in third, Kenny Wilson (54) in fourth, Ty Sprock (38) in seventh and Nico Monforte (35) in eighth.

“This is a very strong group of athletes who competed at a very high level,” Schmidt said. “These athletes put everything on the line, and it was some amazing ski racing.”

Skiing for the Sugar Bowl team, Devin Davis placed 12th with 21 points and Dylan Murtha was 20th.

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