Winter Sports Club U16 skiers climb up a bit at championships |

Winter Sports Club U16 skiers climb up a bit at championships

— Call it lucky No. 22 for Steamboat Springs U16 Alpine skier Mary Kate Hackworthy.

The ski racer cited a number of positives that were taken from Friday’s girls U16 giant slalom championship at Steamboat Ski Area. After training in bitter cold and blankets of snow — and sometimes both — blue skies awoke over the Sitz/See Me course. The snow was nice, and the conditions were fast.

Oh, and Hackworthy’s favorite number is 2, so perhaps sporting the double-deuce bib would help her get on the awards stage by the end of the day.

What ensued was Steamboat’s best finish thus far — boys or girls — in this week’s Rocky Mountain Division/Central Division U16 Alpine championships. Hackworthy improved one position in her second GS run to snag seventh place overall, a day after Steamboat skier Cole Puckett also took a top-10 finish in the boys giant slalom.

“My downhill on Tuesday and my Super G on Wednesday weren’t the best, but today was really good,” Hackworthy said. “The snow was great, and I love where I started. No. 2 is my favorite, and I was 22nd.”

The National Training Group’s Kaitlyn Vesterstein threw down the day’s top run in her first go at the course (1:02.45) and held her lead by three seconds for victory. Aspen’s Isabella Johansson crossed in second with a two-run time of 2:13.02, just barely edging out Ski Club Vail’s Dylan Fiore (2:13.11).

Plenty more Steamboat skiers made their way into the top half of the enormous 100-girl field. Margaret Dickson was next up for Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club girls Alpiners, taking 24th overall. She was immediately followed by teammates Mackenzie Ward in 25th and Madeline Boucher in 26th. Taylor Olson took 31st, Amber Elliott was 47th and Olivia Flake was 57th.

Overall, times were fast and the stellar conditions were welcomed with open arms after temperatures sunk and snow piled up more than a foot since the U16 Alpine championships officially kicked off meetings and training last weekend.

With the late-winter weather blast, getting Sitz/See Me and the Vagabond super-G and downhill course ready was an event in itself for Winter Sports Club staff and parent volunteers, Alpine Director Caroline Lalive Carmichael said.

“Now that the weather is good, it’s going awesome,” Lalive Carmichael said. “It’s a challenge with weather and speed because it’s such a long course and safety is our No. 1 concern. I can’t thank our Winter Sports club staff and volunteers enough. It’s a huge process putting this on.”

The U16 championships’ final day is Saturday for the boys and girls slalom, this time on Howelsen Hill. Winter Sports Club racers are hoping a little Howelsen magic will be on their side, and the likes of Hackworthy, Puckett and company can continue to climb in the rankings.

“The kids from Central are generally really strong in slalom,” Lalive Carmichael said. “It’s fun to see how that pans out. I’m excited for our kids. It’s home-hill advantage. We train there every day practically.”

The boys first run is at 8:30 a.m., and the girls first run is at 9:30 a.m.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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