Norton and Barnwell Rock Far West Opener
In a sport where a competitor faces the clock alone it is pure joy to see racers many of which have competed against one another since they were four and five years old help each other succeed. There is a reason I believe the US Ski team chose eight of their newest members for only a select spot of twelve openings from the Far West League. The Far West Northern Series ski racing league is arguably some of the most competitive ski racing in the world. With our US ski team members now among the most competitive ski racers in world cup where ski racers in Europe have seven figure salaries approaching those of NBA and NFL stars here in the states. Many of the young skiers in the Northern series attend private ski academy’s where schooling is a night time activity leaving the day free to increase those ever important miles chasing red and blue to achieve gold.
Diamond Peak’s Peyton Norton and Heavenly Ski & Education Foundation’s Gunnar Barnwell are just your average Whittell middle schoolers though; trying to stretch out that joyful Christmas break and log in as many miles on the hill as possible. Those miles paid off this past weekend with Peyton Norton rocking the U-14 Slalom opener at Sugar bowl with two blistering times of 43.73 and 44.45 for a combined time of 1:28:18 landing him on top of the podium Saturday. First year u-14 Gunnar Barnwell turned in two respectable 49’s for a combined time of 1:38:09 earning him an impressive ninth place finish skiing against the tough eight graders. Heavenly & Whittell Ski coach Christine “Corky” Woodcock said “Gunnar has been working hard in dry land training with our high school team in an effort to compete with the older boys, if he skis a bit more aggressive he could find himself on the podium”. Heavenly Ski team second year skier Sean Dunklemen found himself in good company on Saturday while finishing 40th out of a field of 85 boys may not seem like much of an accomplishment finishing this particular race at all for most was a miracle! Over half of the field did not even finish the race on Saturday and Sean managed to have the presence of mind as he lost his ski on the last gate of his second run to pick himself and his ski up and go through the finish after having to hike on his first run. Heavely Ski teams lady racer Cypress Sell had an impressive first outing as well with a top twenty finish Saturday turning in a combined first race time of two minutes and a couple tenths of a second. Kirkwood Ski & Education Foundation’s James Gonzales just edged out Sean Dunkleman with a time of 2:11:32 compared to Sean’s time of 2:13:34. Kirkwood Ski team member Tyler Loll was disqualified on his first run but was able to finish in the top third on his second run.
After a full day of wind on Saturday and the extremely tough course set that day many of the racers came back to the hill prepared for east coast ice and world cup conditions. The smart coaches sharpened everything including their finger nails knowing once they stepped out of their skis to video tape and coach there was little to prevent them from taking a fast boot ski to the bottom. Heavenly and Diamond peak U-14 boys were excited to learn former Heavenly coach now coaching diamond peak U-14’s Mark Norton was the course setter Sunday. Loving Mark’s rhythmic round straight forward courses the Heavenly boys and Diamond Peak’s Peyton Norton being favored to win skiing a course designed by his dad. However Slalom racing is a fickle date and posting the fastest time of the day is only good when you finish on the right side of the last gate which Peyton forgot to do on his first pass giving the home town favorite Dashiell Judd from Sugar Bowl reason to celebrate taking the win with an impressive combined time of 1:26:78. Gunnar Barnwell just missed a second top ten finish with eleventh place and a combined time of 1:35:80. Despite Peyton’s misfortune he cheered his teammates Nick Fisher & Noah Cleary on to 7th & 8th place finishes. Kirkwood had Daniel Drapeau & Bennett Norman both place in the top fifteen while Tyler Loll finished twenty eighth. Heavenly Ski and education foundation’s Sean Dunkleman missed the 12th gate on his first run disqualifying him from the race but posted a very respectable 46.82 on his second run putting him in the top 15 fastest finishes. Cypress Sell unfortunately missed the third to last gate Sunday knocking her out of a top twenty finish.
Next weekend Heavenly Valley hosts a re-scheduled Tahoe League race on world cup which will also be a slalom event. While the top competitors in Far West are not allowed to compete in this race many of them will get to fore-run the course and it will be an excellent opportunity for local to come out and see some great ski racing. For information on participating in this great local ski race please visit http://tlrs.homestead.com/sched.html or call 530-314-9285 for more information.