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Durango alpine skiers race in division championships

DWSC hosts Southern Series Championships at Purgatory on Friday-Sunday
June Scheid, Amelia Pierantoni and Ema Munoz of the Durango Winter Sports Club shine at the U14 Rocky / Central Championships recently in Vail. (Courtesy DWSC)

Over the past two weeks, dozens of athletes have represented the Durango Winter Sports Club Alpine Ski Team across the state in Rocky Mountain Division Championship races. Competing against powerhouses such as Vail, Aspen and Steamboat, the team still posted a number of excellent results.

“These kids have trained two to five days a week at Purgatory Resort and Chapman Hill over the season. They are dedicated athletes showing up to every practice, putting in the time and sharing in the camaraderie of a very challenging sport,” said Caitlyn Kneller, DWSC board member and parent. “To compete in the RMD championships is a prize in itself. To have numerous athletes land in the top 50% is awesome and a testament to the Alpine program. First year Alpine Director, Tyler Hoyt, has orchestrated a fantastic season of training. It’s safe to say he’s very proud of the kids and looks forward to continuing growth within the team.”

DWSC coach Blake Lobato readies the team’s U10 girls, from left, Evelyn Kneller, Nora Scheid, Brynley Feistner, Weslie Winebarger and Audrey Matlock ahead of some recent slalom races. (Courtesy DWSC)

The championship races kicked off with RMD U10 competitors at Telluride on March 11-12. Fourteen DWSC athletes competed in two giant slalom and two slalom races One notable result was a top-10 result by Evelyn Kneller (ninth) in slalom.

The team also had numerous top-20 results in the four races: Evelyn Kneller (ninth, 12th, 13th, 16th), Brynley Feistner (13th, 14th, 15th, 16th), Nora Scheid (12th, 20th), Weslie Winebarger (18th), Donavan Frazer (17th) and Ivan Rundquist (19th).

Other DWSC skiers also competed, including Audrey Matlock (23rd), Brody Bruce (22nd), Hayes McKnight (23rd) and Miles Venzara (28th).

Up and coming U8 finishers included Lee Matlock (24th), Jett Winebarger (33rd), Nina Rundquist (38th) and Isla Haroun (44th).

“Slalom is my specialty,” said Matlock, 7.

The U10 team is coached by Ian McKnight, Blake Lobato and Max Shull.

From left: Cooper Spillman and Linnae Kuehl of Flagstaff prepare to race alongside DWSC's Isabel Pierantoni and Alpine director Tyler Hoyt at a recent race. The longtime competitors and friends and will race each other again this weekend at the Southern Series Championships at Purgatory Resort. (Courtesy DWSC)

Some of DWSC’s older athletes, Johan Sauders and Isabel Pierantoni, competed in the Rocky Mountain Division U16 Championships March 10-13 at Crested Butte. Over three feet of snow led to a cancellation of the super-G, but the athletes persevered through their slalom and giant slalom races. Southern Series racers from the Flagstaff Area Ski Team also joined DWSC Athletes on the mountain under the direction of DWSC alpine director Tyler Hoyt for a weekend of fast skiing and epic powder.

DWSC U12 athletes Jocelyn Mehaffie and Tessa Sanders chat with each other after a slalom race. (Courtesy DWSC)

For the Rocky Mountain/Central division U14 Championships, the action continued for five days of racing at Vail on March 12-16. Nearly 200 athletes from as far away as Michigan competed in super-G, giant slalom, slalom and slalom duals in the Golden Peak race arena. First-year U14s Amelia Pierantoni, Ema Munoz and June Scheid qualified for the championship competition through a World-Cup style points system based on their results this season. Amelia Pierantoni took the team's top finish of the week in the super-G, finishing 40th out of 108 racers.

Coach Ian McKnight traveled with six DWSC athletes to RMD U12 Championships at Powderhorn Resort on March 18-19. With a break in the snowy weather, the racing conditions were prime and the competition was fierce in the fields of about 75 girls and 75 boys. Nate Matlock and Tessa Sanders nearly cracked the top 20, placing 21st and 22nd in the giant slalom, respectively. Other DWSC athletes who raced included Jocelyn Mehaffie (GS, 31st), Wiley Robinson (GS, 44th), Zara Smith (slalom, 44th) and Callie Zaremba (41st).

With the RMD championships complete, the last event of the season will determine who takes home the Southern Series Trophy, and DWSC is hosting.

DWSC will be host the Southern Series Championships at Purgatory Resort this week. Super-G will take place Friday and giant slalom will be held Saturday, with both races will be held on Upper Hades. Slalom will take place Sunday on Deadspike. The team encourages spectators to cheer on DWSC athletes as they look to win the Southern Series trophy.

DWSC U8 alpine skiers Lee Matlock and Jett Winebarger enjoy a recent competition. (Courtesy DWSC)