Locals fly high at Keystone Smartwool downhill | SummitDaily.com

Locals fly high at Keystone Smartwool downhill

Ryan Slabaugh

KEYSTONE – The next time you find yourself driving 65 mph, stick your head out the window and open your mouth.

Then, imagine doing it on skis, and blaming your big mouth on losing Thursday’s Smartwool downhill ski race.

“You got me by seven-hundredths,” said Team Summit’s Taggart Spenst, who finished second in the J2 boys race to teammate Bobby Paulus. “I guess I have to close my mouth.”

Spenst does know what he’s talking about. He finished a blink behind Paulus and a blink in front of teammate Ian McKnight, as Team Summit swept the J2 (16 to 17-year-old) podium at Thursday’s Smartwool downhill.

“In downhill, it’s the little things that you can do to take time off,” Spenst explained.

The event completed a week’s worth of speed events at Keystone, including two super-Gs last weekend and a pair of downhills this week.

In Thursday’s girls race, Team Summit’s Katie Hartman placed second, a day after taking third in the first downhill.

Despite the lack of snow and number of races on the course, the only complaints from the racers were the bumps.

“It was still solid,” said Paulus, who won in 1 minute, 11.86 seconds. “I just knew I had to stay fast.”

McKnight started Team Summit’s good fortune on Wednesday when he won the boys downhill in 1:10.95. Paulus (fourth), Spenst (sixth), Eric Davis (11th), Tanner Bardin (12th) and Tomoyuki Shirasaki (13th) completed the local domination.

“These kids are all J2s and very competitive,” said ability coach Chip Woods, who acted as chief of race. “It’s a close group. We don’t have that many J2s, but it’s fortunate, demographically, that we have so many at the same level.”

Hartman’s third place on Wednesday led teammates Margie Thorp (eighth) and Kirsten Turner (ninth) on the front page of results.

“Katie’s capable of winning every run,” Woods said. “She’s also trying different things on every run. Sometimes, it’s good. And sometimes, she’ll take a little too straight of a line.”

The speed events continue in a couple weeks, when the top J1 and J2 racers will tackle Rockey Mountain Trophy Series FIS speed events at Beaver Creek.

“This team loves speed,” Woods said. “(Giant slalom) is OK, but when they get to slalom, it’s a little tougher to get them going. But for speed events, all you have to do is put them on the hill and they’ll do the rest.”

The competition was also the first opportunity for male J3 racers to compete in a downhill venue. J3s Dustin Murray and Drew Beling took third and second, respectively, in Thursday’s race. J3 Taylor Vest-Burton from Summit won the award for moving up the most spots, after going from the 88th starting position to 29th on Thursday.

Team Summit’s Mary Hostetter, Blaine Martin, Erin Breslin and Jenna Sheely also competed in the girls race.

Team Summit’s Joshua Stein, Will Gregorak, Aaron Hogan, Alex Gruber, John Kemp, Mark Miller, Hunter Black, John Kanaly, Drew Hauser, Brannon Sheely and Zach Wade also raced for the boys.

Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 257., or at rslabaugh@summitdaily.com.

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