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Dan Prater Memorial Cup this weekend

CBMST alpine skiers having banner season

by Than Acuff

It’s February, it’s snowing and that can mean only one thing: it’s time for the Dan Prater Memorial Cup, aka the Prater Cup, Thursday through Sunday, February 22-25 at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. In a beautiful twist of fate, former Prater Cup stand-out and locally raised alpine skier David Chodounsky is currently competing in the slalom at the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea as a member of the U.S. Ski Team.

The Prater Cup is Crested Butte’s marquee annual youth ski race and will bring 250 of Colorado’s top 12- and 13-year-old alpine ski racers to Crested Butte as they look to qualify for the u14 championships.

This year is significant for another reason as well. The Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) alpine racers are in the midst of a banner year. Just recently, u16 CBMST athletes Max Shull, Darshan Narayana, Brielle Griggs and Connor Crossen competed in the u16 championship qualifiers in Winter Park and Loveland.

“They all skied awesome,” says head alpine coach Conor Lynch.

Crossen led the way as he punched his ticket to the u16 championships with some stellar results in Winter Park and Loveland. All season, Crossen has consistently finished in the top five among first-year u16s, and top 20 among all u16 skiers, and his coaches are looking for him to make a statement at the championships.

“He’s having an awesome year,” says Lynch. “I’m pretty excited for Connor and he’ll be in the mix at the championships.”

Equally exciting are the upcoming home races this weekend. For the first time in a long time, CBMST will have a strong presence on their home hill, with eight skiers, six boys and two girls, racing.

“It’s the most I’ve ever had in my nine years coaching here,” says Lynch. “I’m pretty pumped about it.”

Second-year u14 skier Asher Weinberg should lead the charge this weekend, as he has been scorching courses throughout Colorado all season.

“He’s been getting a lot of podium finishes this year,” says Lynch. “He’s definitely one of the top three athletes for his age.”

But Weinberg is just the tip of the CBMST iceberg, as five of his teammates have been training hard and charging all season as well. Aksel Lindenmeyr, Gavin Jobson, Julian Arthur, Avi Narayana and Mason Renick have all been training four to five days a week and are looking strong heading into the Prater Cup weekend.

“I’ve been taking them to the bigger races this year and I think all of them have the potential to qualify for the championships,” says Lynch. “We’ll see after this week.”

Gracie Birnie and Persia Lovett have been training two days a week and getting a couple smaller races under their belt. The Prater Cup will be their first exposure to some of the top u14 racers from throughout the Rocky Central Division.

“It’ll be some of the toughest competition they’ve seen all season,” says Lynch.

The racing kicks off on Friday, February 23 with a Super-G. Saturday will be the giant slalom and the race weekend concludes on Sunday with the slalom.

Once the dust settles from the Prater Cup action, the CBMST returns to training with plenty more on tap to finish off the season. In addition to the u14 and u16 championships, Lynch has plans for all athletes to close out the season on a high note.

“We still have a bunch of races,” says Lynch.

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