Saturday, April 13, 2024

Ski racers successful at regional, divisional championship events

| March 27, 2024 12:00 AM

Young ski racers representing the Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation and the Northern Division of the US Ski & Snowboard Association qualified for and competed in regional and divisional championship events over the past several weeks.

For racers under age 14 (U14), the Western Regional Championships were held at Grand Targhee, Wyoming March 20-24. Leo Bungener of Whitefish was selected to compete on the Northern Division team and finished fourth place in the boys slalom (SL), 13th in the giant slalom (GS) and 26th in the Super-G (SG). The Western Region includes athletes from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and parts of Wyoming, North, and South Dakota.

Under 16 (U16) racers traveled to Alyeska, Alaska March 18-22 for their Western Regional Championships. FVSEF athletes Greta Lund (Polson) and Lola Zinser (Whitefish) qualified for the Northern Division team. Lund had the top finish with a 16th in one of the two SG races.

The U18/U21 Western Regional Junior Championships were held in Stevens Pass, Washington March 3-8. FVSEF athlete Melody McNally (Columbia Falls) raced in all six races of the series with her best result a ninth overall in one of the SLs (7th for U18s). 

FVSEF also had many athletes qualify to represent the Northern Division at the Tri-divisional Championships in Big Sky and Bridger Bowl last week. The series included athletes from three of the five divisions comprising Western Region – Intermountain which includes Utah, Idaho, parts of Wyoming and Alaska, and Northern, which includes Montana and parts of Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

On the U16 side, Parker Retz, Syndey McPhie, Guinevere Tomblin, and Dynalea Tomblin, all of Whitefish, qualified. For U14s, FVSEF athletes included Claire Graham (Whitefish), Finlee Klocke (Kalispell), Kira Paatalo (Whitefish), Avery Retz (Whitefish), Colter Bengtson (West Glacier), Wyatt Nadeau (Columbia Falls), Soren Lund (Polson), and Rylan Hoover (Whitefish). Parker Retz had a strong series earning sixth place in SG, second in GS, and thirrd in SL, all of which added up to him being the overall U16 series winner. Wyatt Nadeau had a huge win in the U14 SG; Soren Lund peaked at the right time and took third in the U14 SL and fifth in the U14 SG. Colter Bengtson also had a strong end to his season, taking seventh for U14 boys in both the SG and GS, and 4th in the SL. Rylan Hoover skied to a 15th in the U14 boys SG, as well. Claire Graham was FVSEF’s top girl with a fourth in the U14 SG. 

The championship events were the culmination of a challenging winter, but FVSEF athletes made the most of the training and racing opportunities they had. Many will travel to Bridger Bowl next weekend for the Over the Hill Gang race series — a fun spring-time celebration of the season — before jumping into their spring and summer sports.