Trio of Team Summit Alpine skiers make their mark at national competition
At Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, three Team Summit Alpine skiers put an exclamation point on the winter season by competing on April 2-6 at the 2022 U.S Ski and Snowboard U16 Alpine National Championships.
Team Summit was represented by Stella Buchheister, Niko Leunig and Jevin Palmquist, all of whom qualified for the national competition back in March by finishing within the top 15 at the Rocky/Central Regional competition in Steamboat Springs.
The trio from Team Summit also competed against the best U16 skiers from the Western and Eastern regions. A total of 45 skiers made up the pool of competitors in the men’s and women’s competition.
Buchheister, Leunig and Palmquist each had a busy week. The skiers competed in an event every day of the five-day-long competition.
In the giant slalom, Buchheister led the way as she placed second with a combined time of 2 minutes, 9.64 seconds and a top run time of 1:04.48.
Buchheister was beat out by Rocky/Central Region teammate Mollie McTigue whose combined time beat Buchheister’s by close to one-third of a second.
“I hadn’t raced against any of the other girls outside the Rocky/Central region recently, and I knew that competing with the best girls across the nation would be a challenge,” Buchheister said of her performance in an email. “I kept my focus on my skiing and things I could control, hoping for results to follow, and they did.”
In the men’s giant slalom, both Palmquist and Leunig had difficulties completing clean runs. Both Team Summit athletes did not finish one of their two runs. Consequently, Palmquist and Leunig were not factored into the final rankings.
In the slalom, both men had a better showing. Palmquist raced across the finish line for a national title while Leunig placed 10th overall.
Palmquist was a rocket on his first run of the slalom course. He recorded a time of 44.80 seconds, which combined with his second run time of 47.66 seconds for a total combined time of 1:32.46.
In the women’s slalom race, Buchheister received her second silver medal of the competition as she combined for a time of 1:37.37 to place second.
None of the Team Summit skiers were able to podium in the super-G. Buchheister notched the top finish in fifth while Leunig placed sixth and Palmquist finished in ninth.
In the team parallel giant slalom, Buchheister and Leunig helped the Rocky Mountain/Central Region team to a third place finish.
At the conclusion of the competition, Buchheister and Palmquist both stood on the awards podium as some of the best overall U16 skiers.
Buchheister was named the women’s second best overall skier, only losing the title by three points, and Palmquist was awarded third in the men’s competition.
“Based off their results throughout the season, they certainly had the skills to be able to place high and it was their hope and goal,” Team Summit U16 Alpine coach Tina Buchheister said. “But to be able to execute in a big moment and focus on their skiing and not get weighed down by the possibly of placing high really was impressive.”
The Rocky/Central region Alpine team dominated across the board as the team was able to come together in order to have stellar performances across all the events. The performances resulted in the team easily beating out the West and East regions for the Regions Cup with a total of 325 points.
The national meet concludes the 2021-22 winter season for the Team Summit U16 Alpine skiers. Palmquist will be the only one to return to the U16 classification next year. Buchheister and Leunig will graduate to the Federation of International Skiing classification.
“They have both been progressing steadily over the last few years,” Buchheister said of Leunig and her daughter, Stella. “They have been maturing as athletes and there is no reason to doubt that they will enter the (Federation of International Skiing) level with success as well. They are both really motivated, driven and hard working.”
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