Sunlight skiers silver at J5 Finale |

Sunlight skiers silver at J5 Finale

contributed photoSunlight Ski Team racer Cooper Cornelius speeds his way to a giant slalom win at the J5 Finale at Powderhorn Resort on Saturday.

MESA – Some 20 ski clubs, represented by 180 9- and 10-year-old competitors, took to the slopes at the annual J5 Finale, held last weekend in Powderhorn Resort.

Behind Vail and in front of Steamboat, the Sunlight Winter Sports Club came away with the second-place trophy in the overall team standings.

Mimicking what Bode Miller accomplished at the Vancouver Olympics after his first three races, Cooper Cornelius had a gold, a silver and a bronze medal hanging from his neck.

Cornelius made his intentions clear immediately by winning the first giant slalom on Saturday by nearly a full second over a field of 98 boys. He took third in the second race.

It was in the slaloms the next day in which Cornelius proved most efficient. Starting with Bib No. 70 and contending with a blizzard and deep ruts, Cornelius skied to second place, 2.5 seconds ahead of bronze medalist Patrick Scruggs of Vail.

In the final slalom, Cornelius’ run was a series of linked, athletic recoveries, which, by sheer will and fight, brought him another silver.

First-year racer Alexis Naylor, a 9-year-old who has worked hard ever since dryland training began early last fall, achieved her payoff in the final competition on Sunday.

After lackluster results (25th and 21st on Saturday and a ninth in the first slalom on Sunday), some cajoling from her trainers – John Bresnitz, in his third season as Sunlight’s head coach and Chelsea Lynch, enjoying her first season with the team – Naylor skied her finest race of the season and finished fourth just a fraction of a second away from standing on the podium.

Following respectable showings in the giant slalom, Devan McSwain, whose older sister Lily injured herself at the J3 Olympics and required surgery after a very impressive season, topped off her own season with a fifth and an eighth in the slaloms.

Succeeding admirable showings in the giant slalom on Saturday, both Dalton Cherry and Tyler Dollahan were determined to also bring their “A” game to the Sunday slaloms. Both were skiing to top-10 finishes when the risks they took caught up to them and they both crashed.

The entire J5 Sunlight Ski Team squad, including Hannah Juul, Michal Hale and Henry Barth, skied their personal bests thus far this season at Powderhorn.

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