The Taos Winter Sports Team (TWST) racers traveled to Purgatory Resort in Colorado for a day of Super-G (SG) and two days of Giant Slalom (GS) competitions Jan. 14-16. These races are stops on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Southern Series of the Rocky Mountain division.
Aidan Heflin and Ian Olson placed first and fourth, respectively, in SG. The athletes were faced with lots of new snow and a very bumpy track all weekend. The conditions presented numerous challenges for all the athletes and the Taos skiers showed that they could handle the bumpy and uneven surfaces.
The GS races continued the trend of rutted and difficult racing conditions, and the course sets were quite fast, adding to the challenges. Again, TWST athletes showed that they could handle the conditions. Heflin led the charge with three out of four wins in the under-14 (U14) group. He was joined by Olson, who showed consistency with two third-place finishes, a fourth and an impressive second in the final race of the weekend.
In the boys U8 group, Col Cassily took home a gold and silver and Joey Draney earned two silvers. In the U10 races, Isaac Olson showed consistent skiing with a third-place and three fourth-place finishes. Zachary Schatzberg grabbed a pair of eighth-place finishes and a ninth in the U10 races. Alexander Schatzberg had a good showing as well with three top-25 finishes in the U12 division.
Greta Klinkman and Rowan Heflin both enjoyed breakout weekends with Klinkman earning three silvers and a bronze in the U10 group. Heflin placed fifth and fourth and then earned a gold on the final run of the weekend. Both girls stepped up their game with solid performances. In the U12 group, Greta Swanson placed fourth and sixth and grabbed the silver. Solana Pearl garnered four top-20 places.
‘Things should get even better’
TWST athletes have been primarily focusing on skills development to start the season and have only recently begun to focus on competition preparation. “The team as a whole is young and many of our athletes are traveling to competitive races for the first time,” said a TWST staff member who was pleased with the results to start the season. “As we get some more gate training time, things should get even better as the season progresses.”
Over the course of the year, the TWST has athletes who compete in ski racing, big mountain and terrain park competition. The team remains busy with events from now through April. In March, athletes will be awarded individual and series titles, and for many TWST athletes, the races at Purgatory Resort were the first steps in the journey toward those overall titles.
The next stop for TWST ski racers will be in Flagstaff, Arizona, for two days of slaloms Feb 4-5.
Four Taos athletes went up to Snowbird, Utah, to compete in the first Junior Freeskiing National Tour stop. The three-day event took place on the legendary venues of Silver Fox and North Baldy and was attended by the best 180 competitors in the country Jan. 14-16.
Charlotte Ulrich finished in second place among 12-14-year-old female skiers. She was joined by Pippen Katalevsky, who placed fifth.
Brothers Ben and Isaac Shelton also competed in the 15-18-year-old male snowboard division. Ben Shelton finished in fifth place with a “fast and fluid” run in the finals Jan. 16.
“This competition shows us how we’re looking going into comp season,” said TWST freeride head coach Andrea Krejci. “I’d say it’s looking very good.”
Up next for the team is a regional competition at Crested Butte, Colorado, Feb. 4-5.