Ripley skiers take on Rockies

WINTER PARK, Colo – Two Mont Ripley Race Team alpine ski racers competed in the United States Ski Association Rocky/Central Division U14 Junior Championships held at the Winter Park Competition Center in Winter Park, Colo., March 19- 22.

In his 29th year of coaching, Bob Vial, of Chassell, led two local girls to register strong performances against the best alpine racers in the Rocky and Central Divisions of the United States Ski Association (USSA). Ally Fenton (Hancock) and Sarah Rowe (Dollar Bay) competed in a field comprised of 108 of the best U14 (birth year 2000 and 2001) girls from a 20-state region including the Rocky Mountains.

The Super G was the first event contested, on March 20, in which Fenton rocketed to a breakthrough performance by placing fourth, just 0.72 seconds out of first place. According to coach Vial, “It was a remarkable result for Ally, given that she had only one training run opportunity. The race was held on a true Super G course, a challenging mountain course which hosted the US National Championships in 2012. Ally is an excellent athlete and it was great to see her perform so well against a very strong field of Rocky Mountain girls who get to train and race in this type of venue frequently.”

Rowe finished just 0.11 seconds behind Fenton, placing fifth despite dominating the training run the previous day with the fastest training time by nearly 2.5 seconds. On Thursday, Rowe finished first in a giant slalom race.

On Saturday, the slalom event was contested during a heavy snowfall, creating challenging conditions for the racers. Fenton’s best slalom finish was 19th. Rowe finished fifth in the first slalom run and second in the second run.

Her combined time in the slalom was the fastest overall for birth year 2000 girls. This result propelled her to qualify to compete in the U16 National Championships to be held at the United States Ski Team Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah, which run from Saturday until April 3.

Rowe was selected as one of 15 birth year 2000 girls nationwide to ski up in the older U16 age class, to compete for the U16 National Championship. The field will consist of a total of 54 girls, ages 13-15, who qualified in competitions held nationwide.

“It is a tremendous accomplishment and honor for Sarah to be selected to compete as a U16, in a field of elite athletes from throughout the country. She has worked hard all season and has proven to be a fierce competitor. She was in the hunt to win every event in Winter Park,” Vial said.

Rowe completed the Rocky/Central Championships placing third overall in combined scoring. The U16 National Championship event is also billed as an “Assessment Project.”

According to documents released by the USSA, “The purpose (of this event) is to acquaint the national team and development team staff of the USSA and USST (United States Ski Team) with these athletes, and vice versa …”

Rowe is the first Mont Ripley athlete to qualify for a USSA National Championship event in recent history.