The month of March holds a lot of promise for competitive skiers and snowboarders. There are extended operating hours — Aspen Skiing Co. now runs its lifts until 4 p.m. — softer snow for landing jumps, and for athletes at the top of their game, the opportunity to compete in the “championship season.”
For alpine skiers, the first goal is to qualify for the junior championships in their age divisions (under- 14, U16, U18). The initial qualification rounds have taken place and, at this weekend’s Council Cup at Ski Cooper, the final selections for the U14 and U16 Rocky/Central Championships will be made.
Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club’s U14 skiers who qualified at last weekend’s Prater Cup in Crested Butte include Devan McSwain and Levyn Thomas of Glenwood Springs. McSwain was on the podium in a slalom (finishing second) and had top-10’s in the giant slalom and super-G. Thomas, who is a first year U14 skier, was consistently among the top 20 finishers all weekend. Her best was 11th in a slalom race.
The U14 regional championships take place March 17-22 in Winter Park.
Cooper Cornelius of Glenwood Springs, a first-year U16, also easily qualified for his regional championships, which begin March 9 in Steamboat Springs. Cornelius, along with Travis Lundin, a U18, used a pair of Smartwool Downhill Series races at Copper Mountain this week as warmups for their championship seasons.
Lundin is set to compete in the U18 National Championships, which run today through March 8 at Copper Mountain. Lundin, a Glenwood Springs High senior, was a silver medalist in the first downhill on Feb. 25, finishing behind only River Radamus from Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. In that same event, AVSC’s Tristan Lane of Basalt took third and Cornelius was 11th.
On Feb. 26, Cornelius bested his previous day’s run and his standing in the event that utilizes the U.S. Ski Team’s training venue at Copper. Cornelius was eighth, a solid result considering not only his youth, but that the Feb. 25-26 events were his first downhill races.
The Freestyle Junior Nationals selections have also been determined. Joining the list of AVSC freeskiers who got the nod are Carbondale’s Joey Lang (men’s halfpipe) and Tyler Spence (slopestyle and aerials/big air). The USSA Freestyle/Freeskiing Junior Championships are set for March 10-16 in Park City, Utah.
A trio of USASA boardercross events at Aspen Highlands that were held Feb. 22-23 may also serve to help qualify riders and skiers for their upcoming national championships. While the selection process is still open, local athletes including Jasper Grimm, Boden Hamilton and Richard Argueta of Carbondale, Logan Laufer of Rifle and Glenwood’s Elliot Dwyer-Walz and Dominique Johnson certainly bested their chances due to strong results in a sport that’s been compared to roller derby on snow.