Smith could be tough to beat
Julia Smith isn’t invincible after all.
The Shenendehowa sophomore hooked a gate just before the finish line earlier this week and was disqualified in the slalom event at the Saratoga Invitational at Willard Mountain.
Smith, who lost only one Section II race last year as a freshman, has again dominated area girls’ high school Alpine competition this winter, and is the favorite to repeat as champion in both the slalom and giant slalom events at the Section II title races Tuesday at Gore Mountain. She already has pre-qualified for the New York state championships Feb. 24-25 at Bristol Mountain near Rochester.
But as the result at Willard showed, you win the title on the race course, not based on the past.
Handicapping the rest of the field, Smith is high on her Shen teammate, Kirsten Kruk, who, said Smith, “has been skiing very well lately. I hope we can duel it out for the championship. “
Other Section II girls who have been racing well this season include Katie Zilka and
Julia Sante of Queensbury and Ellie Daley of Albany Academy. The team title is expected to come down to Shenendehowa versus Queensbury.
On the boys’ side, Kieran Mottau of Saratoga Springs has been the dominant racer this winter, not only winning multiple races, but doing so by convincing margins.
Mottau has a very solid racing pedigree. Both his dad, Glenn, and his brother, Tanner, competed for The Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, and Kieran began his secondary studies at the noted ski academy.
Mottau had some issues finishing races in the past, but wrapped up last season by winning the New York state overall championship, which was also held at Bristol Mountain. He likes the steep, technical runs at Bristol, so he’s pleased the event is there again.
His major competition in the Section II event should come from fellow senior and Saratoga teammate Ian Hauser, who was injured last season, Ned Feist of Niskayuna and Cooper Perkett of Bolton Landing/Lake George.
Saratoga and Queensbury are the favorites to win team honors in the sectional event.
On the Nordic side, Queensbury sophomore Tyra Wynn, healthy this season, has been the strongest racer week after week. The competition for second place has been between the Duclos twins, Sarah and Amy, of Shenendehowa, and Megan Kellogg of Queensbury. All have been prequalified for the state championships, which will be held the same days as Alpine at Bristol Mountain.
Kellogg led Section II with a third-place finish last year in the state cross country event.
The closest competition in Section II this winter has been in boys’ Nordic, where several competitors could end up on top of the podium. Matt Forshey of Scotia-Glenville, Liam Mulshine of Queensbury and three Shen racers — Owen Putnam, Brian Cryzan and Aaron Huneck — have consistently been in the top group.
The Nordic championships will be held Wednesday at Lapland Lake.
The name may not be
familiar, but if you plan to tune in the Alpine events in the Sochi Olympics, Jim Carr of Greenfield Center will again be in charge of what you will be watching.
Carr is a principal in Carr-Hughes Productions, located just outside Saratoga Springs. And while the company may fly under the radar locally, it is a big deal in the world of sports broadcasting.
The company is a multi- Emmy-winning operation that frequently contracts with NBC on sports programming. During the year, if you see an event on the network, be it a track and field championship an equestrian competition or a speedskating race, chances are Carr-Hughes had a hand in the production.
Carr, a Greenfield Center native and SUNY-Plattsburgh graduate, has been involved in international sports broadcasting since 1980 in Lake Placid. Sochi is his 12th Olympic games.
And he’s a featured player. Despite the absence of Lindsey Vonn on the hill (she’ll be a regular on the “Today” show), Alpine skiing, along with figure skating, is a gold standard event at the Winter Olympics. With all the coverage on all the channels under the NBC banner, there will be extensive air time devoted to Alpine coverage over two weeks, starting today. And what you see on the screen is likely a product of Carr’s work behind the control panel.
Carr-Hughes is also producing a track and field competition from Boston and a horse race from Florida this weekend, employing some 100 people on the projects where the work runs the gamut from hiring crews to the complete post production editing of the final products.
The announcement earlier this week that Shaun White will sit out the slopestyle competition at Sochi was not met by much sympathy in corners of the U.S. snowboard world. The reasons given for White’s withdrawal is that the course in Sochi is dangerous and he did not want to risk an injury that would keep him out of the half-pipe competition, where he has won gold medals in the last two OIympics.
But while snowboard slopestyle is new to the Olympics this year, it has been a mainstay for years of other snowboard competitions like the X-Games and the Dew Tour. There has been criticism of the construction of the Sochi course, especially since
December when a leading U.S. rider, Eric Willett, was injured and out of the running for an Olympic spot on a similar course at Copper Mountain Colorado.
But despite these concerns, voiced by other athletes, no changes were made in the Olympic runs. And White waited until the last minute to pull out of the event, thus denying another rider a spot on the U.S.
White is clearly a major star on the US team. But he is no longer the fresh, gregarious “Flying Tomato” who burst on the snow sports scene winning gold in Torino in 2006. In the fraternal world of snowboard professionals, he has made himself an outsider by maintaining a private separate training facility for his use only and not being a part of the fraternity at competitions. Many who are among the best of the rest feel White dropped out of the slopestyle event because he figured he couldn’t win it and didn’t want to tarnish his reputation going into his signature event, snowboard halfpipe.
Adult ski racing has been an area tradition for more than 50 years, and the Capital District Ski Council has two more races on the schedule for this season: the Albany Ski Club Invitational on Sunday,
Feb. 15, at West Mountain, and the OC Ski Club Invitational at Magic Mountain in Vermont on Feb. 22. The competitions will be a modified giant slalom format.
Last week in the Capital District Ski Council Race at Pico, the men’s open championship once again came down to a battle between old rivals Mark Pavlus of the OC and Dave Vanderzee of the Albany Club. Pavlus finished on top in the best two of three runs combined time event.
Other CDSC winners were Sally Vanderzee, women’s open; Tim Jensen, men’s vet; Debbie Scuderi, women’s vet; and Phil Bayly, men’s super-vet.
In the 18 and under competition, Scout Watkins won the men’s event, and Madisyn Wakefield won the women’s competition.