Coal Ridge High School junior nabs sixth in skiercross |

Coal Ridge High School junior nabs sixth in skiercross

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colorado ” Through she’s typically the baby of the bunch, Coal Ridge High School junior Kourtney Mitchell is certainly capable of holding her own on a skiercross course.

The 16-year-old delivered in a big way at Copper Mountain on Wednesday, taking sixth overall and first among American women at a Nor-Am skiercross stop at Copper Mountain.

“It was pretty awesome,” Mitchell said. “It’s my second year only and most of the women I race against are in their 20s, if not 30s. I’m pretty proud of myself.”

And, with her star rising in the skiercross world, she has every right to be.

Mitchell took up skiercross last season and trains with Aspen Valley Ski Club. The laid-back atmosphere that flavors the discipline is what drew her in.

“In alpine competitions, everybody seems so uptight and intense,” said Mitchell, who also participates in alpine races. “Skiercross is more laid back. I’m 16 and the closest person to me in age was 20 (at Copper) and they were pretty much all welcoming me with open arms, especially the U.S. ladies.”

Skiercross ” an event popularized by the Winter X Games where a group of skiers race down a course littered with jumps, rollers and banks ” and Mitchell were an instant fit.

She closed out the 2007-08 season as the USA Snowboard Association girls division (11- to 15-year-old) national champion, and is carrying that success over to 2008-09.

Mitchell’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Skiercross is making its Olympic debut at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

To that end, Mitchell is training hard and gleaning every bit of racing knowledge from her fellow, more-experienced racers. Even if by simply following their lead.

“I’m learning from the older women,” she relayed. “You get behind the faster races and just watch them ski and you learn so much.”

Give it a few more years and skiercross’ bright-eyed youngsters might just be following Mitchell’s lead.

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