Sugar Bowl Academy skiers perform well at J3 Western Championships | SierraSun.com

Sugar Bowl Academy skiers perform well at J3 Western Championships

Special to the Sun
Submitted Photo Pieter Weemaes and Michael Cooper take time out for a photo during the J3 Western Championships at Big Sky and Bridger Bowl in Montana last month.
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Sugar Bowl Academy represented the Far West Division well at the J3 Western Championships at Big Sky and Bridger Bowl in Montana from March 16-18, highlighted by four top-10 finishes in the men’s giant slalom.

In that GS race, which was held on the second day of competition, Sugar Bowl Academy’s Pieter Weemaes led the way with a gold-medal performance while teammate Michael Cooper landed on the podium with bronze and Luke Rodarte was the top first-year J3 in eighth. SBA’s Sam Ferguson, who was fourth after the first run, crashed on his second run and still finished ninth overall.

and#8220;Michael (Cooper) and I had the good luck of running first and second in the first run, and I think we both took advantage of a pretty decent track,and#8221; Weemaes said. and#8220;On the second run, though, I knew I’d have to go 30th, and as I watched the track deteriorate from the top and#8212; it started to break down a bunch after the first 15 racers and#8212; I just tried to clear my mind so that I could put down a clean run.and#8221;

Cooper, who had a brutal crash in a super G training run the previous day that put him on a backboard for his trip down the mountain, somehow recovered to record his podium finish. He commented about skiing the day after his monster crash.

and#8220;I woke up early this morning to spin and stretch and see if I could fit my ankle into my [ski] boot. It fit, so I went out on the hill, put the previous day behind me, and skied two solid runs of GS. It worked out well and I’m really, really happy,and#8221; Cooper said.

On the girls’ side, Far West’s Maureen Lebel, formerly of the Sugar Bowl Ski Team, won gold in the GS, while Lauren Keller and Annika Hansen of the Diamond Peak Ski Team placed seventh and 10th, respectively.

Weemaes’ gold came one day after earning silver in the super G. He then won the first run of the slalom on the final day before crashing in his second run.

Rodarte, who was among the standout first-year J3s at the competition, recorded a podium finish in the slalom with a third place. Cooper took sixth.

and#8220;I went into the event just wanting to have fun on that hill and stay pretty relaxed,and#8221; Rodarte said. and#8220;While I had the goal of skiing into the top three, I also knew that, as a first-year [J3], I’ve got a lot of time left at this level and in the sport in general. I had a great first run and then, in the second run, I just wanted to charge hard and#8212; which I did, but made some big mistakes … In the end it was good enough to achieve my goal. I couldn’t be happier.and#8221;

Stephanie Lebby of the Squaw Valley Ski Team won the women’s super G, while Lebel tied for third and Francesca English of Squaw was seventh. In the ladies’ slalom, Maia Bickert of Heavenly led Far West with a fourth-place finish and Keller was 10th.

Complete results can be found at http://www.westj3champs.com.

As a result of their performances at the J3 Western Championships, Cooper, Weemaes, Rodarte and Jordan Cashman, as well as Lebby, Lebel and Bickert, are all representing Far West at this week’s U.S Ski Team’s U16 Assessment Project in Park City, Utah.

and#8212; Sierra Sun Sports Editor Sylas Wright contributed to this story.