Purgatory Alpine Ski Team heats up

Racers hit podium at cold, home races

Purgatory J3 ski racer Lauren Milliet, 14, rounds a gate during the giant slalom races at Durango Mountain Resort last weekend. The skiers competed in four USSA races over two days in the Southern Series. Enlarge photo

Photo courtesy of Thru the Lens Mountain Photograp

Purgatory J3 ski racer Lauren Milliet, 14, rounds a gate during the giant slalom races at Durango Mountain Resort last weekend. The skiers competed in four USSA races over two days in the Southern Series.

Cold temperatures translated into hot performances for the Purgatory Alpine Ski Team last weekend.

The team hosted the Southern Series USSA giant slalom races at Durango Mountain Resort. Four races were held over two days on the Upper Hades run.

High temperatures reached about 10 degrees above zero on both days of racing.

Ten teams and 110 skiers from Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona competed in the junior age categories (J1: 17 and above; J2: ages 15-16; J3: 13-14; J4: 11-12; J5: 9-10; J6: 7-8).

This year, the Purgatory Alpine Ski Team is coached by Heikki Hall, Tyler Hoyt, Leah LeSage, Rick Lorenz, Alexis Mclean and Ivan Unkovskoy.

In Ability Class races (J3 and older), the times from the morning and afternoon races were combined to determine the winners.

In the girls races, Purgatory had six racers in the top 10 Saturday and five in the top 10 Sunday.

Sonja Fleming went gold-gold, winning each day’s race.

Lauren Milliet won silver and bronze medals for the two races.

Returning Purgatory racer Liz Schell (ski racing as a freshman at Colby College in Maine), earned a bronze medal Saturday and was fourth Sunday.

Rounding out the top 10, Katarina Seibert posted finishes of seventh and fifth. Stephanie Bowles was sixth in both races.

Skiing in her first race, Brooke Milliet placed ninth and 11th.

Among first-year J3 skiers, Megan Pope was fourth and fourth (14th and 15th overall).

In the boys Ability Class, Curtis Eggleston and Beau Biernacki led the Purgatory team.

Eggleston skied to a huge four-second gold medal victory on Saturday and recovered from a near fall in his first run to miss the podium with a fourth-place finish Sunday.

Biernacki scored a bronze medal finish Sunday and had a fifth one day earlier.

Scotty Schwab posted a bronze-medal finish Saturday and, skiing aggressively, missed a gate and was disqualified Sunday.

Jobe Sarvash skied to 14th- and 10th-place finishes, and Liam Weiss added an 11th place. He was DQ’d after missing a gate in Sunday’s afternoon race.

The J4 girls were led by Katie Milliet with two fourth-place finishes, one fifth and one sixth.

Teammates Bryce Ward (fifth, seventh, eighth, seventh), and Anne Chase (seventh, eighth, ninth, ninth) were close behind.

J4 Clay Eggleston skied to two bronze-medal finishes and two fourth-places.

Teammate Lucas Robbins, skiing in his first J4 races, placed sixth, seventh, fifth and sixth.

Purgatory’s lone J5 girl, Maddie Jo Robbins, posted four top-10 finishes (seventh, eighth, seventh and sixth) in the 16-person field.

In the largest field of 20 racers, Jack Eggleston led the Purgatory J5 boys by skiing to four silver-medal finishes.

Teammate Gunnar Schwab was close behind with fifth, fifth, eighth and sixth places.

Joe Pope finished eighth, eighth, ninth and ninth.

Gavin Wrublik placed ninth in his only race of the weekend.

Silverton’s William Morris logged a consistent first weekend of racing. He was seventh in three of the races.

The youngest Purgatory racers had a top weekend.

The J6 girls division was dominated by Isabelle Washburn (three firsts) from Purgatory and Silverton’s Elena Gober (three seconds and a first).

During the awards ceremony for the fourth race, the 7-year-old Washburn, slated to receive a fourth first-place medal, whispered to the judge that she had missed a gate and then disqualified herself, earning a round of applause from the competition.

J6 Nicholas Unkovskoy led the young guns with three gold medals.

He was followed closely by teammates Wiley Corra (second, third, fourth, first), Calvin Chase (third, fifth, sixth, fifth), Harry LeSage (sixth, seventh, fifth, fourth) and Evan Donovan (ninth, seventh, seventh).

Wes Jackson, racing on short skis, added finishes of seventh, eighth, eighth and sixth.

“The races went smoothly in spite of all the snow and cold temps,” head coach Leah LeSage said. “And the team posted terrific results, especially considering that we weren’t able to do any gate training this season until the day before the race.”

The alpine race team is a division of the Durango Winter Sports Foundation.