Sunlight Ski Team racers shine in opener at Durango |

Sunlight Ski Team racers shine in opener at Durango

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
contributed photo

Sunlight Ski Team head coach John Bresnitz can’t remember his tiny team ever enjoying a better weekend.

First-place finishes were abundant, as were personal-best runs, as the Sunlight skiers, who range in age from 7 to 14 years old, opened their season with a flourish on 2011’s first weekend.

With team members spread between a Southern Series race at Durango Ski Resort and a Valley Series affair at Aspen, podium visits were frequent for the Sunlight crew.

“This past weekend was the best Sunlight’s probably done in its history,” lauded Bresnitz, who’s entering his fourth season in charge at Sunlight.

Cooper Cornelius, in his first year as a J4 racer (11- and 12-year-olds), and Tyler Dollahan, a J5 racer (9-10), each won all four of their giant slalom races in Durango.

Dollahan had never previously won a race.

Podium trips are something the 10-year-old wouldn’t mind repeating.

“I hope to stay up there,” Dollahan said with a smile. “It was a great feeling.”

A frequent visitor to the podium in recent years, Cornelius is no stranger to winning.

Though his track record is more than formidable, the 11-year-old isn’t sitting idle. He wants to be even better.

“I’ve been doing dryland [training] a lot,” Cornelius said. “And I’ve just been preparing my mind on how to stay ready for races. … Like, during the race, trying not to eat any junk food and just kind of visualizing the course and getting all the nerves out.”

Nerves weren’t an issue. The conditions were a bit of challenge, however.

Sunlight’s skiers woke up to temperatures as low as minus 22 degrees.

“We had to wear big, puffy jackets just to keep warm and stuff,” Cornelius said. “It was really sunny out but just really cold. The snow was pretty soft, so there were some pretty big ruts. Other than that, it was pretty good.”

Other notable performances by Sunlight skiers included:

• After falling two gates from the finish in her first race, Alexis Naylor went on to win her next three races in J5 girls competition.

• Tyler Dollahan’s older sister, Quincy, also joined in Sunlight’s Durango success. After two silver finishes and a fourth-place showing, the 12-year-old J4 racer won her final race of the weekend.

• The youngest of three Dollahan siblings – 7-year-old Garrett – also competed in Durango. He raced in the J6 division (7-8) and came away with three silvers in his first age-class races ever.

• Also making their competitive debuts in Durango were Skylar Adelman and Elle Murphy, both first-year J5s. Murphy, 9, left Durango with three 10th-place ribbons. Adelman, also 9, nabbed a ninth-place ribbon.

• Dalton Cherry, a first-year J4, rebounded from falls on each of his first three races to narrowly miss the podium on his fourth try. He finished fourth, missing out on third place by a fraction of a second. The fourth-place performance was Cherry’s career-best.

• A couple of Sunlight skiers didn’t make the trip to Durango, opting instead to compete at a Valley Series race in Aspen. Henry Barth, a J5 competitor, won his first-ever race. Devan McSwain was the fastest J5 girl on the hill in Aspen.

All told, Sunlight Winter Sports Club athletes took home 14 gold medals and five silver medals on their opening weekend of competition.

Said Bresnitz: “It was Sunlight’s most brilliant, shining weekend ever.”

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