“They all skied better than they were expected to”
Five local alpine skiers from the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) made the trip to the Junior Olympics, with four racing in the J3 Rocky/Central Junior Olympics in Vail and one competing in the J2 Nationals in Aspen last week.
Sarah Person, Annie Ochs, Hannah Watt-Sax and Cole Byron all qualified for the J3 Junior Olympics and CBMST head alpine coach Kevin Brousseau gave them the lowdown heading into the week of races.
“I told them it’s going to be a long grind,” says Brousseau. “This is the big show.”
In the end the athletes exceeded the coach’s expectations, putting together some of their best efforts of the season.
The Junior Olympics opened with a downhill event and Ochs and Byron led the charge for the CBMST as Ochs came in 13th place and Byron took 16th place.
Ochs continued to post strong results in the Super G, finishing in a tie for 20th place. Then, Ochs posted her top finish, breaking into the top 10 with a 10th-place finish in the giant slalom.
Byron returned to the top 20 in the giant slalom to take 17th place.
“He [Byron] was delighted to make JOs this year,” says Brousseau. “He had a breakthrough year.”
After finishing in the 30s and 40s the first three days of racing, Watt-Sax rallied in the final day on the slalom course to break into the top 20 with a 17th-place finish in her final race.
Person qualified for the Junior Olympics with a tremendous effort at the Council Cup the week before and tested the waters of the “big show” with a number of solid top-50 finishes in the stacked field of Rocky/Central athletes.
Brousseau admits that the focus for him and the racers was not on specific results. As a result, he believes they had a great week of racing in Vail.
“These athletes all skied better than they were expected to,” says Brousseau. “It was a successful stint at the Junior Olympics. Each racer lowered their points in each of their races. It’s been a very good year.”
Meanwhile, CBMST alpine coach Brett Wagenheim joined J2 alpine racer Linda Kimber of Sweden at the J2 Nationals in Aspen for the technical events, slalom and giant slalom.
“For her to qualify for nationals was a goal in itself,” says Wagenheim.
Kimber made the most of her first trip to the nationals against the top J2 skiers in the nation coming out of a 53rd start position to post a 20th-place finish in the slalom on a very demanding course.
“The courses themselves were the longest and toughest courses she’s seen all season,” says Wagenheim. “It was exciting to see her step it up and ski at that caliber.”