Osmundson, Woods and Ondrusek step up to podium
For many junior ski racers, the ski racing season comes to a head in March as several championship races are held throughout the country.
It’s the March Madness of the junior U.S. alpine ski racing world.
Several Crested Butte Academy alpine racers found themselves in the mix of March Madness racing at venues from Telluride, Colorado to Sugarloaf, Maine.
The championship month started off at Ski Cooper in Leadville with the Council Cup March 6-8. The Council Cup is the final opportunity for a J3 racer (ages 13-14) to qualify for the Junior Olympics.
Only the overall top girl and overall top boy qualify, making for some intense competition.
Academy J3 racer Cole Byron took a shot at the top spot by winning the slalom but he ended up in third place overall, just missing a spot to the Junior Olympics.
“It was a good effort out of Cole and should keep him hungry for next year,” says Academy alpine race director Drew Cesati.
J3 racers Mick Osmundson, Anthony Romano and Annie Ochs qualified for the Junior Olympics earlier in the season and were in Vail to represent the Crested Butte Academy team March 9-12.
Osmundson led the team reaching the podium, with a third-place finish in the Downhill, just missing second place.
“He was one-tenth of a second off, about half a ski length,” says Cesati. “It was a really tight race.”
Osmundson took fifth place in the Giant Slalom and Slalom to finish the J3 Junior Olympics in fourth place overall.
“He had a solid week of competition,” says Cesati. “He’s among the top athletes of his peer group.”
Romano and Ochs are both first year J3s and each posted solid results for their first trip to the J3 Junior Olympics.
First year J2 (age class 15-16) “boy wonder” Alex Jerred has been tearing through the age class this season to qualify for the J2 Nationals in Aspen March 4-11.
The Nationals attract the top 60 J2 skiers from across the nation and is held at the women’s World Cup venue on Aspen Mountain.
Jerred’s best result among the giants of the J2 age class came in the Downhill when he finished ninth.
“That’s definitely a solid race for him and a good way to cap the season,” says Cesati. “He should have another crack at that event next season.”
Tim Woods and Nicole Ondrusek headed to the Colorado Junior Ski Cup Championships in Telluride March 19-23 competing in the J1 age class (ages 17-18).
Woods’ best result from the four days of racing came in the slalom with a second-place finish.
Ondrusek had a phenomenal showing in Telluride, racing in her first year as a J1. Ondrusek took third place in the Giant Slalom and first and second place in two Slalom events.
“She finally put the skiing we’ve seen in training into a race,” says Cesati.
Meanwhile, Academy athletes Max Lamb and Liz Woods spent March 19-26 at Sugarloaf, Maine competing in the U.S. Nationals as J1 racers.
The Nationals includes all the top alpine ski racers in the nation, including several from the World Cup circuit and determines the top skiers in each event.
“It’s where we declare our National champions within each given discipline,” explains Cesati. “It’s a good way to get an indication of where our kids are.”
The event was suspended due to weather the first three days, forcing race organizers to fit seven days of racing into four days.
Woods managed to ski to a 15th-place finish in the Super G and an 18th-place in the Downhill, but Lamb took awhile to refocus after the three-day delay.
“He skied progressively better through the four days, but we didn’t have ample opportunity to get him prepared,” says Cesati.
On the bright side, Lamb remains at the top of his peer age group and is third in the nation in the Slalom and is knocking on the door of the U.S Developmental team.
“He’s young and at the top of his game for his age,” says Cesati. “He’s just on the bubble for development team selection.”
Overall, Cesati was pleased with the finish of his athletes this season.
“The kids skied their tails off late in the year and proved Crested Butte Academy is one of the top programs in the nation,” says Cesati. “We’re still looking forward to find ways to improve their results.”