Hirotaka Mertes (8th grader Los Alamos Middle School) celebrates his victory on the top of the podium competing for the Los Alamos Ski Team. Sasho McDowell (8th grader Los Alamos Middle School) earning the 3rd place finish on the podium competing for the Taos Winter Sports Team at Snowbowl Mountain on Sunday February 5, 2023. Courtesy photo.
BY PAULA KNEPPER
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Southern Series of the Rocky Mountain Division held its second event of the season on February 4-5, 2023 at Snowbowl Mountain, located northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona. Sixteen TWST athletes competed against nearly 100 youth athletes from Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico in a blistering fast slalom course.
Julian LaCome, head coach TWST racing team, inspects the course with seasoned TWST athletes. Photo by Michelle Mosby.
Slalom is an alpine skiing event that athletes carve up a course of closely spaced red and blue gates to the finish line. A winding course of springy plastic gates are set on a pitch to test athletes’ judgement, skill, and speed. Judgement, experience, and skill are necessary to find the fastest line of approach and exit. This is a race against the clock and the fastest athletes are awarded with a spot on the podium.
Cullen McLean (6th grader Mountain Elementary) with a clean carve finding his fastest line. Photo byf Michelle Mosby.
Emma Mosby (4th grader Los Alamos) in the launchpad. Photo by Michelle Mosby.
Oliver Mosby (6th grader Los Alamos) doesn’t allow a gate to stand in the way of his fastest line. This technique of attacking a gate is known as cross blocking. Photo by Michelle Mosby.
TWST athletes had a successful weekend of racing. Solana Pearl earned the first-place finish for women U18 category. Rowan Heflin finished in the top five for the women U16 category. In the U14 women category, Livia Turner finished in the top ten followed by team mate Abigail Dolan. In the U12 women field, Phoebe Snow Desatoff earned the 6th place finish followed by Elinor Turner, Lucy Vaskas, and Emma Mosby, who were competing in the U10 women category.
In the U12 men category, Cullen McLean earned the 2nd place on the podium and Axel Vaskas in 3rd place. Team mates Oliver Mosby, Malik Boukhalfa finished in the top ten and were followed closely by August Wood. Max Oliver earned 2nd place finish in the scored U14 men on day 2 of the competition and Konik Pearl earned a 2nd place finish in the U14 men category on day 1 of racing. Justin Foster and Joseph Gallegos competed in the U14 men category and both finished in the top ten. Sasho McDowell earned a 2nd place in the U16 men category.
Taos Athletes celebrate their victories. Cullen McLean 2nd place, Axel Vaskas 3rd place, and Oliver Mosby 9th place. Courtesy photo.
Snowbowl mountain graciously hosted an energizing weekend of slalom ski racing for youth competitors. The mountain staff and Flagstaff Alpine Ski Team staff practiced agility with high winds in the forecast for Sunday. Race organizers compressed the schedule and started the day early to ensure that all racers could enjoy a safe and complete day of slalom ski racing. TWST and Los Alamos Ski Team athletes brought their best game to a challenging course and fierce competition. Their hard work and dedication paid off this weekend earning them top spots on the podium.
TWST is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that was established in 1976 dedicated to providing opportunities for athletes to become great skiers and pursue personal goals. TWST promotes the development of good sportsmanship, healthy competitiveness, sound technical skills, and a reverence for the ethos of the mountains. TWST is proud to call Taos Ski Valley their home mountain.
For more information about TWST see http://www.taoswintersportsteam.com/