It’s been a long tradition at Ski Racing to not only name our Juniors of the Year — look for those awards next week — but to also take a season-end look at performances to see where we might have excelled and hand out a little praise for what might otherwise be largely overlooked efforts.
We like to start with the World Junior Championships and then fold in the U.S. Nationals and the national junior meets, boil the results and see who bubbles to the top most often. (The second part of this coverage will release once U16 races are complete.)
It was a solid team effort at Junior Worlds — at least in speed — held this season at the Olympic site of Sochi in Russia.
The event opened with a bang for the U.S. as Erik Arvidsson collected the downhill gold medal, leading four Americans into the top 10, including Sam Morse in fourth, Florian Szwebel in seventh, and Drew Duffy 10th.
Breezy Johnson got fourth to lead the Americans in the women’s race.
Duffy led the men in super G in 11th with Arvidsson 15th, Alice Merryweather in 18th and Patricia Mangan (pictured above) in 19th.
In combined, Galena Wardle posted sixth with Mangan seventh, and Nina O’Brien 12th. Sam Morse led the U.S. men in combined in 13th.
Moving to the technical events, Wardle led the women’s GS charge in 22nd and Arvidsson the men in 14th.
In slalom it was Alex Leever in 20th as the lone U.S. finisher while the women had Mangan in 14th, Wardle in 20th and O’Brien in 21st.
Most of these skiers turned up again on junior podiums at U.S. Nationals.
Arvidsson was the top junior in the downhills at Aspen in third place. Drew Duffy was next up in fifth, and Sam Morse, in eighth, was third junior across the finish. Among junior women it was Breezy Johnson winning the race, Cecily Decker in fourth and Alice Merryweather fifth.
Mikaela Shiffrin (yes, she’s still a junior) made a shambles of the U.S. slalom by scorching the field ridiculously. Stephanie Lebby was the second U.S. junior in seventh, and Mangan was eighth.
On the junior podium in men’s slalom were Jack Keane in ninth, Peter Fucigna 11th and Leever 12th.
Mangan led the way in the women’s super G in third overall with Merryweather fifth and Wardle eighth.
In the men’s super G, Arvidsson made both podiums, placing third overall with River Radamus second among juniors in seventh. Dean Travers of the Cayman Islands paced ninth with Patrick Kenney getting 11th in the race.
Radamus topped the U.S. juniors in combined, in seventh overall, with Drew Duffy eighth and Kipling Weisel 10th as the third best among juniors. The women’s contest was a bonanza for the juniors. Top honors went to Wardle, who won the whole shebang, and Mangan, who was second overall. Nellie Rose Talbot, in sixth, was third junior.
Drew Duffy topped the junior GS list, finishing ninth in the race. Radamus, in 12th, got the silver-medal spot and Alex Leever, in 14th, the bronze. Shiffrin had enough to take the women’s GS for all age groups with Stephanie Lebby in eighth as the second junior in a formidable field. Cecily Decker was a tenth behind Lebby for the bronze medal position.
The Youth Olympic Games back in February provided a platform for a couple of American U19s to shine. Radamus took full advantage, winning three gold medals. Keely Cashman posted a 10th, a 13th and a 14th; and Andrea Louise Arnold chipped in an 18th.
The nitty gritty of course, are the national junior events. At the National U19s held at Copper, eight skiers posted two or more top-five finishes: Rachel DesRochers was second in GS and fifth in slalom; Jack Keane was third in slalom and fifth in GS; Sky Kelsey was second in super G and third in downhill; Madison Lord was third in slalom and fourth in GS.
Meanwhile, also at Copper, Kyle Negomir won the downhill and was third in super G; Radamus won the super G and was second in both slalom and GS; George Steffey won both tech races; and Jennie Symons was fourth in slalom and downhill and fifth in GS. Others collecting victories included Lucia Bailey, Stephanie Lebby and Cecily Decker.
Take any of these names to the bank. These are not their last podiums.