There is nothing as special for a younger athlete than to rise to the challenge of a tough competition. "Attack from the Back" is a phrase often uttered to those offered a late starting position, in a race in which the start orders are based upon the athletes’ current rankings as compared to others in attendance. Thus, our U16 athletes, less experienced than their older counterparts, are often relegated to the end of the order, which usually offers a rougher track and more difficult race conditions.
On Sunday, our U16's joined our older racers at Jiminy Peak for a USSA U21/U18 race start and distinguished themselves as athletes and competitors (some top-performing U16’s are invited to participate in Tri-State races primarily for older racers). On the girls’ side, U16's Eliza Stichter ‘16 and Elise Chauvel ‘15, after both starting in the mid-60's of the order, both finished the first run in the top 20. These girls were joined on the first run by U18 skier Emily Barclay ‘15, who navigated the steep pitch to finish 30th. Trouble found Krissy Govertsen ‘15 in the first run, dropping her back into 50th place. Julia Slyer ‘14 had a questionable fall, after which she continued on only to be disqualified by the race officials. Bears’ Assistant Coach Govertsen wisely protested the call, arguing the ruling to the race officials. In situations like this, only video evidence can reverse an official's decision, but as it happened—since we video our training sessions and race competitions—Coach Govertsen provided the video to race officials, who then reversed the call and allowed Julia back into the race. On the boys’ side, our lone U16 boy who qualified into this race, Bryce Shuler ‘15, showed his true mettle, and similar to his U16 teammates Eliza and Elise rose to the occasion: Bryce started in the 150th position, and following a near perfect run, rose to finish 21st for the boys. Simply put, it was a great run, which proved to all that Bryce could ski with the big dogs. Bryce was bracketed by U18's Nate Mackenzie ’14, who finished in 13th, and George Frick ’14, who finished in 30th.
The second run offered more ups and downs for our crew. On the up side, Eliza Stichter proved that she's a true gamer; upon leaving the start house, Eliza immediately fell to her hip yet continued to carve across the hill on her outside ski, not giving in to the forces of gravity. She continued sliding on her backside across the track, striking the first gate, where she used the force of the impact to right herself and leap back into the race. Absolutely on fire, she crushed the rest of the run, finishing in 12th overall, and 1st for all U16's. Eliza was followed by Elise Chauvel, who stormed the steep and icy pitch to finish in 15th Overall, and provided the "1-2 Bears’ Punch" to finish 2nd for all U16's. In some of her best skiing yet this year, and after starting on new skis, Emily Barclay grabbed 21st overall with two solid back-to-back finishes. Krissy Govertsen followed in 43rd, after another challenging run. Back into the race after a reversed disqualification, Julia Slyer showed herself and her coaches her willingness to put aside set-backs and drama and skied back into the running; after starting last, Julia finished in 40th for the run and an amazing 47th for the day.
In a reversal of fortunes, the boys faced tough challenges with the course and their skiing on the second run. Nate Mackenzie dropped back to 18th yet landed in 10th overall. Then, though many young athletes tend to hold back on their second effort after a strong first run, Bryce showed what real competitors are made of, throwing caution to the wind and storming into his second run with purpose and strength. After an impressive showing on the top and middle steep sections, sending other coaches scrambling to their start sheets for the name of this rocket, Bryce found some difficulty at the bottom of the course, fell, skied off and then re-entered the course. Unfortunately, though, this re-entry disqualified Bryce from the competition. Rounding out the Berkshire boys, George Frick navigated the second run with determination and power, ultimately moving up to 24th overall.
All in all, it was a dramatic day for the Bears, with high points as well as learning experiences. Next stop for the Bears: the Brigham Ski League Giant Slalom Championships at Ski Sundown this Wednesday, February 6th, followed by a pair of age-class USSA competitions, with a U21/U18 slalom at Bousquet Mountain and the U16’s heading back to Jiminy for another giant slalom.