By Sue Morning
Races around the world are being postponed or canceled on a daily basis due to the current warm and dry weather conditions. But the Mammoth Race Department team didn’t let marginal snow conditions stop them from hosting the Mammoth Mountain Open Western Region FIS Series Dec. 19-22.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Team members, including Nikita Norton, were able to capitalize racing on their home turf. Norton, whose best FIS result in tech events was a fourth place in April 2012, ended up with a top ten result in every race. She started out taking fourth and sixth in the GS events, then came back to win the first slalom and she finished up with a sixth place result in the final slalom.
Natalie Riffle narrowly missed having four top ten finishes. On the first day, Riffel headed into the second run of the GS in third, but she wasn’t able to finish the run and had to settle for a DNF for the day. She put that behind her and came back to take 10th the next day and followed up with a pair of bronze medals for the two slaloms.
Lucas Underkoffler suffered a similar fate. After taking fifth and ninth in the slaloms, Underkoffler again sat in ninth place going into the second run of the GS, but a mistake midway through the second run cost him the finish. He came back the next day to finish both runs and take seventh in the final GS. Other local racers who took one or more top 15 results were: Casey Haveruk, Logan DeAngelis, Alex Colby and Tyler Wormhoudt.
While the FIS racers were taking advantage of the excellent racing conditions at Mammoth, members of the U16 team headed to Tahoe for two days of slalom racing at Heavenly, Dec. 21-22.
Max Ziontz led the contingent on the score board with a 12th place finish overall (fourth for the U16s) the first day, while Cody Underkoffler followed up the next day, placing 13th overall (10th for the U16s). Joining Ziontz and Underkoffler with top 15 results for the U16 division were: Jimmy Wehsener, Whit Spain, Lachlan Anderson, Aidan Carrigan and Katherine Brown.
The Kittredge Cup, an annual race that began 29 years ago, was held Dec. 27. The race has traditionally been run as a head-to-head event, but this year there was a change in the format allowing all of the racers to make four runs, the younger set in “stubbies” and the older racers using tall gates.
In the U10 girls, Chaney Szeto slaughtered her competition, beating her nearest challenger by 11.79. Chaney wasn’t the only Szeto to land on top of the podium, as her older sister Siena took the gold for the U12 girls. When asked if they had any special tactics that they used to win their races, Chaney answered that she did “lots of warming up.” Siena replied that she tried, “to make sure I get around the gates smoothly.” Siena also thanked her dad for tuning her skis.
However, it was the race in the tall gates between the U14 Boys that had the crowd biting their nails. After taking the two morning runs, it was Charlie Regelbrugge in first place by a mere .11 over teammate Erik Eisen.
Though Cole Williams posted the fastest time of the day, 27.32, in the afternoon, it was Regelbrugge with his lightning-fast morning runs that gave him the cushion he needed to take the overall win by .16.
Final results: U10 Girls: 1 Chaney Szeto; 2 Bryn Urdi; 3 Margerie McGlashan. U10 Boys: 1 Bjorn Karlen; 2 Quentin LeFrancois; 3 Parker Gumins. U12 Girls: 1 Siena Szeto; 2 Neave Anderson; 3 Tasman Mullins. U12 Boys: 1 Lance Davenport; 2 Daniel Schneider; 3 Aidan LeFrancois. U14 Girls: 1 Sarah Ellis; 2 Mack Carkeet; 3 Eva Yguico. U14 Boys: 1 Charlie Regelbrugge; 2 Erik Eisen; 3 Cole Williams.
The race has always gathered a large throng of friends and family, and this year the cowbells and shouts were as loud and enthusiastic as ever. Meanwhile, Kittredge’s Tom Cage announced more than 400 runs for the day. As the Szeto girls pointed out, “Tom is funny announcing” and “he can pronounce our last name.” Cage, who had a bird’s eye view of the race from his announcer’s booth high over the course, said he was impressed with “how great the kids are skiing so early in the season.”
Stop number one of the Volcom Stone’s Peanut Butter and Rail Jam was held Dec. 14 at Mammoth Mountain.
This season’s PBRJ venue consisted of all rail type features to put the “rail” back in rail jam. Results for Mammoth Snowboard Team members: in the 15 & under division Sam Christie was first; Dray Gardener, second; and Judd Henkes, third. In the 16-21 division Jed Sky was second. Jenise Spiteri placed second; Jene Dietz, third (MMSST Coach); and Kaili Shafer, fifth in the Women’s Open division. Electric’s Gooeyest Moves of the Day for Women went to 10 year-old Tessa Maud.
The following day, the first USASA Unbound event of the season was held on the same course. The event, open to both snowboarders and skiers, saw a number of locals capturing first place results. Junior snowboard winners were: Open Class Men, Jedidiah Sky; Snowboard Women (14 and over), Laura Whitehead; Snowboard Men (14 and over), Sam Christie; Snowboard Boys (10-13), Cody Beavers; Snowboard Girls (10-13), Tessa Maud; Snowboard Girls (9 and under), Alexandria Simsovits; Snowboard Boys (9 and under), Jake Langston. First place for the junior skiers went to: Skier Men (14 and over), Kain Wilmot; Skier Boys (10-13), Ben Albence; Skier Girls (10-13), Hayley Moss.
Mammoth Mountain team rider Kelly Clark mathematically clinched her spot on the 2014 Olympic halfpipe snowboarding team with her win Dec. 22 at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo. After her win Clark revealed, “For me, it really is about the tricks. It really is about my riding. It’s about pushing myself. So even though I had the contest wrapped up at the end there, it was still important for me to go out and put down a good run that I could walk away being really proud of.” Clark wasn’t the only Mammoth rider to compete in the event; MMSST rider Kelly Berger finished 25th. Clark wasn’t the only Mammoth halfpipe podium winner, as Greg Bretz, a former member of the MMSST, ended up second for the men. The following day, Mammoth Team rider Brandon Davis was eighth in the Men’s Slopestyle, while Andre Escobar, representing MMSST and the nation of Chile, was 90th. According to Benjamin Wisner, Director of Mammoth Snowboard & Freeski Programs, eighteen year-old Davis currently sits in fourth place overall for the U.S. in slopestyle, making him a viable contender for a spot on the 2014 Olympic Snowboard Team.
On Dec. 22, the last FIS Freestyle World Cup event of the 2013 calendar year closed out a massive week for the Freestyle tour. For the second day in a row the athletes of the Audi ski cross World Cup tour, including Mammoth’s John Teller, stared down the challenging Innichen/San Candido course. In the first of back-to-back races in the Italian Dolomites, Teller could do no better than 39th, but he moved up to take 20th in both the qualifier and finals, placing him second for the Americans, behind Joe Swennson. Another former member of MMSST, Tyler Wallasch, one of the youngest competitors on the World Cup tour, was 67th and 64th.