“It was a good showing”
Eight members of the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team alpine race division headed to Winter Park for the J3 (ages 13-14) Junior Olympic qualifier races February 15-16, with three racers earning a trip to the Junior Olympics.
The event opened on Sunday, February 15 with two slalom races for both the boys and the girls.
Hannah Watt-Sax charged the course in the first race to put down a seventh-place finish out of 93 racers. Annie Ochs posted a 13th-place finish and Lizzie Curvin and Sarah Person finished in 24th and 29th place, respectively.
Watt-Sax and Ochs flip-flopped their results in the second slalom race of the day, with Ochs taking seventh and Watt-Sax coming in 18th. Skylar Kraatz made a top-30 showing as well, with a 29th-place finish in the second race.
For the boys, Cole Byron straddled a gate in his first slalom run, so the pressure was on in his second race of the day. Byron stepped up to the challenge without a hitch to lay down a fourth-place finish in the second race out of 99 competitors.
“That was a really solid finish,” says J3 alpine coach Brett Wagenheim. “For him to throw down a fourth place was very exciting.”
Competitors then switched gears for day two and two giant slalom (GS) qualifier races. Watt-Sax and Ochs were at it again as Ochs took seventh place in the first race and Watt-Sax finished in 28th.
The two girls flipped results in the second GS race as Watt-Sax placed seventh and Ochs took 26th.
Byron laid down a 14th place finish in his first GS race of the day allowing him to coast to a 24th place in the second race with his birth to the Junior Olympics already set in place.
In the end Watt-Sax, Ochs and Byron all earned a trip to the Junior Olympics at Vail March 5-11 and will compete in downhill, super-G, GS and slalom.
The five other skiers—Curvin, Person, Kraatz, Meed Geary and Morgan Hamilton—are all on the bubble and will be headed to the Council Cup at Ski Cooper in Leadville February 28 to March 2 for one last shot at qualifying for the Junior Olympics.
“It was a good showing,” says Wagenheim. “Most of our athletes are first year J3s so it was pretty impressive. The whole weekend was great and I’m looking forward to Cooper and those athletes on the bubble having a second chance at making it.”