Local racers make podium in Junior Olympic super G | SummitDaily.com

Local racers make podium in Junior Olympic super G

KEYSTONE – Lauren Brien says she’s not accustomed to speed events in ski racing, but you’d never know it by the podium finishes she landed Friday and Saturday in the Junior Olympics downhill and super G races at Keystone.

Brien, who is 17 years old and races for Quantum Sports Club, finished third Saturday behind her teammate Chelsea Lynch and Ski Club Vail’s Kristen Poehling, who won for the second time at the 2003 Chevy Trucks United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Rocky-Central J1 and J2 Olympics, which continue today and Monday at Keystone with giant slalom racing and wrap up Tuesday at Copper Mountain with slalom.

Poehling won the race with a time of 1 minute, 12.18 seconds, while Lynch followed in 1:13.39 and Brien rounded out the podium with a time of 1:13.41.

“This is my first year doing speed,” Brien said. “I did some super G’s last year, but I’m not too experienced yet. It’s nice to have the experience from Europe to use here.”

Brien, Lynch and a few other Quantum skiers returned from racing in Europe four days before taking to the JO courses at Keystone.

Lynch, whose best result abroad was an 11th place in a giant slalom race, didn’t compete in Friday’s downhill but said the super G race, held on virtually the same course – Keystone’s Go Devil – was one of the easier ones she’s ever done.

“You have one steep pitch, but that’s about it,” she said. “There’s no air in this. But every course is a blast no matter what it’s like. And just the thrill of going down a course (like Go Devil) and making your best movements on a turn by far surpasses anything more technical.”

Although there were no real surprises on the super G course, mapping out a line was key, Brien said.

“It’s a pretty self-explanatory hill,” she said. “The course goes where the trail goes. A lot has to do with inspection. You have to put a lot of trust in yourself because you can’t change your mind halfway down the course. You have to know what you’re doing, you have to have a plan, and you have to carry out the plan. When it comes to speed, you can’t change your mind.”

Team Summit’s Tucker Burton knows a thing or two about speed. She finished third Saturday for J2s and eighth overall, but she isn’t having the same sort of season she did last year, when she podiumed in almost every race she competed in.

“On these kinds of courses, it’s hard to go as fast,” she said of the Go Devil course, saying she’s also at a disadvantage being much smaller and lighter than many of the girls she races against. “I’m not as strong as them either. Strength helps a lot in ski racing. You can be more aggressive against G forces if you get late (on a gate). If your skis aren’t running on race day, you’re (done for).”

Burton said she’s still shooting for top three finishes in the upcoming GS and slalom.

“This year’s been kind of rough for me,” she said. “Last year, I had such a good year. You have your ups and downs. This year, I’m kind of going through a changing phase in my skiing. I’m trying to change my technique to move up with my FIS points, but it’s hard to make jumps. I’m going slower before I’m going faster.”

Burton’s teammate, Shelly Miller, took 12th for J2s Saturday and 21st overall, just behind Quantum’s Lyndee Janowiak, who took 13th for J2s and 20th overall. For Miller, the downhill and super G at Keystone were virtually her first speed races, save a downhill at Breckenridge earlier this season.

She was the No. 1 female qualifier in the Colorado State High School slalom race last weekend.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said of the JO super G. “It’s hard to be confident with speeds you’re not used to. It’s faster speeds, but not as quick of motions. You have to get used to that. I think about what’s coming up in the course and staying focused. Going over blind spots, you want to have an image in your head of where the next gate is.”

In the boys’ super G at Keystone, Steamboat Springs racers occupied the podium, but Team Summit’s Bobby Paulus took second of J2 skiers, and 12 overall.

Quantum’s Gary Beresford took 20th overall and his teammate, Austin Johnson, took 28th. Team Summit’s Shun Sakaguchi took 32nd overall and Quantum’s Raquel Reyes took 25th.

The Junior Olympics continue today at Keystone with giant slalom.

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at sfarnell@summitdaily.com.

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