Team Summit’s Megan McGrew, Rachael DesRochers shine at U-19 Junior Championships in Copper
Ladies and gentlemen, meet your future ski stars.
This past week, from Feb. 28 to March 3, hundreds of U-19 club skiers from across North America came to Copper Mountain Resort for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard U-19 Junior Championships. The two local clubs with U-19 racers, Team Summit Colorado and Team Breckenridge, had strong showings in the four disciplines: slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill.
Here’s a rundown of top finishes and more from the local clubs.
Slalom, Feb. 28
The U-19 Junior Nationals opened on Sunday, Feb. 28 with slalom racing for the men and women at Copper Mountain. Set on Rosie’s Run, the slalom courses were very challenging.
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Team Summit Colorado’s Rachael DesRochers charged the hill with two strong runs to finish in fifth place for the day. DesRochers, usually known for her talent on giant slalom and Super-G courses, found her rhythm by putting two strong slalom runs together to finish among the best 16 for 19-year-old women in the country.
“Rachael is not a naturally confident slalom skier,” said Greg Needell, Team Summit’s alpine racing director, “but over the last few weeks she has found a formula that works for her.”
And it was obvious this formula is working.
“DesRochers has given herself a base from which to gain better skills, and therefore, better confidence,” Needell said. “That showed on Sunday with her very solid skiing.”
DesRochers still has some important competitions coming her way to test her athletic skills following the U-19 Nationals.
“I think she can take another big step in slalom in the upcoming NorAm finals and U.S. Alpine Championships,” Needell said.
The overall depth of the field at this event looked very strong for both the men and women, with little difference in time and talent between the first and 15th place finishers.
Team Summit slalom finishes
24. Jordan Watts
32. Abigail Murer
Megan McGrew, DNF first run
Heidi Livran, DNF second run
Giant slalom, Feb. 29
The U-19 Nationals continued on Feb. 29 with giant slalom for men and women. DesRochers continued her week with second-place overall, while teammate Megan McGrew took 11th on the day.
The snow on Rosi’s Run was firm, grippy and responsive, and the hill was in great shape for the athletes as they charged the track.
Stephanie Lebby, from Squaw Valley, and a member of the U.S. Ski Team, took first place for the women in the GS. DesRochers was also in her element, and GS is one of her strongest disciplines.
“To place second is awesome,” said DesRochers. “I’ve waited three years to get on the podium in GS at the U-19 Nationals, and I’m super excited about it.”
Megan McGrew finished in 11th place after a major mistake caused her to fall on an off-balance lean. She was able to recover and finish, but the coaches estimated she lost at least 1.5 seconds to this error.
Thanks to strong finishes in the first two days, DesRochers is in a strong position to compete for the overall championships.
Team Summit GS finishes
24. Heidi Livran
Abigail Murer, DNF first run
Jordan Watts, DNF second run
Super-G, March 1
The Super-G venue on March 1 held up very well, as DesRochers served up her version of fast skiing to finish in fourth for the day.
Unlike downhill, where racers get chances to ski the course before racing it, Super-G racers only inspect and then race — not a particularly easy feat.
Set by Team Summit’s Crawford Pierce, the course ran well for the field, and Copper Mountain’s Competition Department is keeping this track in very good shape.
“DesRochers was the star of the day for TSC,” Needell said. “She made a couple of small errors on the bottom section, which proved to be the difference as she was only 0.72 seconds out, but she skied very well.”
Downhill, March 3
In the downhill on March 3, Team Summit’s McGrew had a landmark day, finishing in third after starting in the 35th position.
“In the start everyone was telling me the track was running a lot faster,” said McGrew. “So I said to myself, ‘No fear, one minute of courage,’ and I sent it. I believe in my skiing and the training I’ve had this year, and I just had fun.”
And fun she had when she came across the finish line, realizing she had the third fastest run for the women.
“McGrew’s run was awesome,” said Pierce, her coach. “She kept her nerves, she put her nose in it, and she did it. She just kept going faster and faster. It was impressive. We are very proud of her.”
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