McConnell takes 4 of 5 third-place wins |

McConnell takes 4 of 5 third-place wins

If not for losing a ski in his second slalom race Friday, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club racer Ryan McConnell might have taken every third-place medal in this week’s J4 Junior Olympic Festival.

McConnell will have to settle for four out of five after wrapping up the week with third-place finishes in both of Saturday’s giant slalom races.

“I never would have dreamed of finishing third in all these events,” McConnell said. “But I’m not complaining. Anytime you can finish in the top three, it’s great.”

Sports Hut skier Michael Ankeny won the first race of the day with a time of 51.49 seconds. Ski Club Vail’s Cody Unicome was second at 51.79, and McConnell was third at 51.88 with Ski Club Vail’s Hunter Schleper finishing fourth at 52.64. Steamboat Springs’ racer Jordan Bernard was ninth, and Hig Roberts was 12th.

The competition for the top spot in the second race of the day couldn’t have been any tighter. Ankeny and Unicome tied for the top spot with a time of 55.32. McConnell was third at 55.98 and Schleper was fourth at 56.55. Steamboat’s Roberts finished seventh, and Bernard was 10th.

“Ryan was consistent all week in every event,” assistant Ryan Barclay said. “It was a great week for him and an awesome week for all of our racers from the Winter Sports Club.”

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The giant slaloms marked the end of the J4 Junior Olympic Festival and the competitive season for most of the athletes involved.

Barclay said the Winter Sports Club will hold the final Steamboat Cup next week and that a few of the skiers will head to the Loveland Derby in April. But Barclay said the focus of those events would be more on having fun than winning.

“This was it,” Barclay said. “These championships were what our athletes came out for last November and have worked for all winter. This was a great way for our athletes to cap off the season on a solid note.”

–To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

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