Summit locals Sheldon and Snyder to race at U-16 Alpine Junior Nationals at Breckenridge Ski Resort
A pair of local Summit County Alpine ski racers will take to their home snow at Breckenridge Ski Resort next week after they both qualified for the U-16 Junior National Championships.
This year’s U-16 Junior Nationals will be hosted by the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association at Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Peaks 9 and 10 from March 31 through April 4. It’ll be familiar territory for Jenna Sheldon and Olyvia Snyder, a pair of Summit High School freshman who race for separate clubs but whom will be representing the Rocky-Central region together come competition time.
Though Sheldon races for Loveland Ski Club and Snyder races for Team Summit Colorado, the skiers know each other well from their time together on the Summit High School Alpine ski team. They each excelled at the March 5-10 Rocky-Central region junior championships where they raced in snowy conditions at Winter Park Resort. The resort received more than four feet of snow during the week, which Sheldon said made the race surface more challenging for each skier, particularly earlier in the week.
Knowing the forecast heading into the competition, Sheldon said she focused on the same thing that has driven her all season: to live in the moment.
“I can’t control what other people do,” she said, “so the best thing for me is to focus on what I am doing at that point and time and have fun. If I’m not having fun then there is no point in even racing. If I have a bad run I can’t let it carry into the next. You just have to live in the moment and the cards will fall wherever they fall.”
The cards fell well for Sheldon during the junior regionals, as her week began with a strong 11th-place finish in the downhill with a time of 1 minute and 8.11 seconds. She followed that up on March 6 with 10th place in the super-G with a time of 1:07.21. The alpine combined followed on March 7 and Sheldon skied to 60th place. Sheldon subsequently took 21st place in the giant slalom on March 9 with a time of 2:24.61 before she concluded the week by skiing to 38th in the slalom on March 10. It was her results in the downhill and super-G that sent her through to junior nationals where she, like every other skier, will race in each discipline.
Sheldon credited her success at Winter Park and this season overall to several coaches and mentors, including Chelsea Roth, one of Sheldon’s first ski coaches who taught her to “be a true student of the sport.” Sheldon also said her current coach Rob Burke has played a pivotal role in helping her advance her skiing techniques. But it’s her mindset that Sheldon feels she’s improved the most on this season, resulting in improved results.
“I did not have any expectation of qualifying for U-16 nationals,” Sheldon said, “so I suppose that is my greatest accomplishment this season.”
Racing for Team Summit, Snyder’s week began with a DNF (did not finish) in the March 5 downhill before she rallied to finish in 16th place in the March 6 super-G, skiing to a time of 1:07.59. Snyder then broke the top-10 during the March 7 alpine combined, mustering a combined time of 1:51.24. Snyder followed that up with a 14th-place finish at the March 9 giant slalom (2:22.90) before her junior regionals concluded with a 12th-place showing in the slalom on March 10.
It was Snyder’s top-15 performances in the slalom and giant slalom that punched her ticket through to the nationals, as the alpine combined event doesn’t count toward qualification. Much like Sheldon, Snyder said she didn’t have an expectation this season to qualify for nationals. Rather, while at Winter Park earlier this month, Snyder wanted to make sure she finished more races than she did in 2018.
Snyder credited Team Summit’s first-year U-16 Alpine head coach Aldo Radamus — who has a long and accomplished history of coaching elite-level racers — for her improved racing skills this season, along with Team Summit coaches Devin Delaney, Max Monroe and Jack Farrell. Snyder said Radamus and the rest of the Team Summit coaches helped her to have more focused plan this season while training, with a goal of really honing in on having what she described as “a healthy aggression” when racing.
When Snyder and Sheldon compete at Breckenridge’s Peaks 9 and 10 next week, it’ll be on the Cimarron run on Peak 10 and on the American run on Peak 9. Once there, Snyder said her goals will remain as simple as they’ve been all season.
“Just to try to ski my very best and feel really good about what I did,” she said, “and to feel like I couldn’t have done any better.”
First year club sends group to nationals
In their first year in operation, the Summit County-based Rocky Mountain Ski Racing club will be represented by a coach and three athletes at U.S. Ski Association nationals events in Sugarloaf, Maine and Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.
Rocky Mountain Ski Racing coach Crawford Pierce is coaching the Rocky-Central region female athletes at this week’s U.S. Alpine Speed Championships in Sugarloaf. Pierce will also coach the team at the U.S. Alpine Tech Championships, scheduled for Saturday through Tuesday, at Waterville Valley.
The three Rocky Mountain Ski Racing athletes who qualified for these U.S. nationals include Abigail Murer, Camyrn Glick and Zoe Simpson. During Tuesday’s downhill in Sugarloaf, Simpson and Glick raced to top-30 times.
“It is really exciting to have half of our athlete’s quality for U.S. Nationals our first year in operation,” said John McMurtry, the club’s founder and executive director.
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