By: Pieter van Ingen, U16 Coach/Winter Term Dorm Parent
The U16 squad arrived in Stowe, VT on Friday, March 10th for the 2017 Eastern Regional Championships, ready to bring their A game! The racers gathered at the start of the Super G on Main Street on Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Resort eagerly awaiting the jury to open inspection, as by now, everybody has cabin fever since the races were delayed a day. After a successful day of racing, Inez Burkard and Aiden Smith led the charge for the NYSEF/NWS team finishing in 12th and 32nd respectively.
The temperatures decided to drop dramatically Friday night into Saturday morning with it being -15 degrees Fahrenheit going out for the women’s GS inspection. After adding layer upon layer and athletic tape to the athletes faces, and Coach Hags getting her astronaut gear on as she was stationed at the start all day, we were ready for a race. The girls were impressively persevered through the frigid temps, skiing to a 3rd (Sarah Bennett) and a 9th (Inez Burkard). It was a great day had by all considering the tough conditions presented to the athletes.
After a day of rest for the men, it was now their turn to fly down the mountain in their GS debut. The temperatures were a balmy -5 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite being cold throughout the day the conditions were pristine for all of the competitors. The NYSEF/NWS boys had a solid day that they could be happy with going into the final two legs of the event. Hugh Dempsey led the way skiing to a 23rd place finish and Magnus Sheffield followed closely behind finishing in 30th.
The crew was now onto the Slalom portion of the championship event and the temperatures had returned to normal March levels. Everybody felt like we were on a beach vacation following the previous two days! The snow was bullet proof and ready for shredding even if skiing from the back of the pack. The NYSEF/NWS showed the East what they were made of. Sarah Bennett skied comfortably to a first place finish! For the boys Hugh Dempsey and Jake Reynolds skied to a 15th and 16th place result respectively.
Tuesday, March 14th, was the final day of competitions. It was an earlier than usual start with the anticipation of blizzard Stella nipping at our heals. Both courses were set the night before and the athletes were able to get to inspection first thing in the morning. For the second run the courses remained the same and the genders simply switched courses and were able to test out the pace with their counterparts.
As the snow began to fly and visibility began to decrease, the athletes pushed on and skied to yet another solid day. Sarah Bennett finished with a result of second place confirming her Overall Champion status for the event and Sarah Coombs skied to her best result of the week finishing in 10th. Jake Reynolds led the way for team NYSEF/NWS in the men’s race finishing in 19th, but the day went to a fellow NYS competitor out of Windham Resort, Lucas Wiacek who won the race.
The 2017 U16 Eastern Regional Championships was surely one for the books and will be remembered by all. The blue bird days, sub zero temperatures, impending blizzard, and one heck of a journey home. However, by far the best part of the athletes having a great time and having some stellar results along the way. From all of us at the U16 level to the rest of the NYSEF/NWS family, see you on the beach!!!