J2 ski racers land a national championship
SUMMIT COUNTY – Until this year, 15- and 16-year-old ski racers, or J2s, have been lumped together with the 17- to 19-year-old J1s at the Junior Olympics.
Only the elite J2s were able to truly compete for medals and, upon recognizing the problem, U.S. Ski Team alpine director Jesse Hunt offered a solution.
The old event, held in Summit County last year and at Beaver Creek the previous three, was a regional championship for athletes from the Rocky Mountain and Central regions.
This year, however, the J2s will race in a national competition on Whiteface Mountain in New York – only against themselves.
“We need to re-establish these J2 nationals to help drive peer-group racing at that level,” Hunt said in a release from the U.S. Ski Team. “We want to broaden our athletes’ development at this age by giving them an opportunity to see where they stack up against their peer group at a national level in all disciplines.”
Team Summit coaches are also excited.
Chip Woods, the new head ability coach, said it will allow U.S. skiing to become more competitive.
“The standard has really been at the J3 level (13 to 14 year olds),” said Woods, who was director of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail when it hosted the JOs. “They only compete against J3s. They have more opportunities. They have the training camp in Lake Placid (N.Y.) and the Whistler Cup at the end of the year.”
During the Junior Olympics, most top-level J1 athletes don’t compete.
They are more concerned with the U.S. Nationals or the NORAM finals, which occur during the same time of year.
The new J2 nationals, scheduled from March 6-11, will become a part of the Clear Path Advancement System being developed by the U.S. Ski Team to promote success at the World Junior Championships.
Winners of the J2 championships will be invited to participate in the national development program.
Walt Evans, U.S. national competition director, said athletes will qualify for the national competition through their regions.
Each region will send 20 men and 15 women.
The schedule goes as follows: March 5, boys and girls slalom; March 6, boys giant slalom; March 7, girls giant slalom; March 8, boys and girls super-G; March 9-10, downhill training; March 11, boys and girls downhill.
The Rocky/Central Regional Championships are scheduled in Aspen from March 6-13.
The J3 Junior Olympics are scheduled from March 7-13 at Winter Park. The J4 Junior Olympics are scheduled from March 17-20 at Steamboat. The J5 finale will be held March 13-14 at Sunlight Ski Area.
Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 257, or at
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