FROM STAFF REPORTS
Traverse City Record-Eagle
— MANCELONA — One run was better than none.
That was the upshot Monday as the Traverse City Central girls and Petoskey boys won the abbreviated Traverse City Central Invitational at Schuss Mountain.
Officials shortened the race to one run in slalom and giant slalom — instead of the traditional two — because of “brutal” weather conditions.
“It was the wise thing to do,” Traverse City West coach Ed Johnson said. “We were still able to get a race in, yet not have those kids out in that ridiculous weather for too long. It was 25 to 30 degrees below zero with the wind chill at the top of the hill. It was very cold, very brutal.”
The courses were groomed and set Sunday, but then eight inches of snow fell overnight. Volunteers, coaches and athletes had to push that snow off the two courses in the morning.
“We had a lot of snow to move,” Central coach Jerry Stanek said. “They got a lot more snow up there than we did (in Traverse City).”
Snow continued to fall and swirl throughout the morning.
“There were times I couldn’t see the top of the hill,” Stanek said. “Everyone skied in really tough conditions. They did exceptional given the conditions we had.”
Despite the conditions, Stanek said no injuries were reported.
“That was a major concern of ours,” he said.
Ten teams were expected to compete, but only six were able to go.
In the girls race, Central edged West 55.5-57. Clarkston was a distant third with 108.
The Trojans and Titans have traded victories this season.
“It’s going to go down to the last race of the year,” Stanek said.
Central led West 25-37 after the slalom, then held on.
Lili Lockwood paced the Trojans, winning the slalom (30.42) and giant slalom (25.50). Devon Dotterrer finished fourth (33.46), Molly Whiting ninth (34.81) and Maggie Dutmers 11th (35.39) in slalom for Central. In giant slalom, Dotterrer tied for sixth (27.70), Whiting took 10th (28.08) and Bailey Versluis 13th (28.40).
Whiting was back in the lineup after missing time with a concussion.
“Molly’s only been back on skis one day,” Stanek said. “I could tell she wasn’t all full strength, but she skied great under the conditions.”
Stanek is still trying to fine-tune his lineup. He lost four skiers off last season’s state championship team.
“We’re pointing to the end of the season,” he said. “We’re young. We need that racing experience. We’re going to do everything we can to keep up with West.”
The Titans almost caught the Trojans on Monday. Typically, West’s strength is the slalom. But it was the giant slalom that nearly turned the meet at Schuss.
“Our girls didn’t shine to their full potential, but they performed well,” Johnson said.
The Titans had “a couple stumbles.” Claire Podges lost a ski on her first run in slalom, then Devan Gorton fell in the giant slalom.
“Claire was our first skier in slalom,” Johnson said. “She had the potential to have our best finish.
“That puts you in a challenging position right way. But the nice thing is that we have depth. Our four, five and six are skiing strong. We were still able to hold our own.”
Morgan Culp led the Titans, finishing third in slalom (31.88) and giant slalom (26.70). Podges placed fourth (26.79), Ginevra Gabrielli fifth (27.58) and Kitt Hornbogen eighth (27.94) in giant slalom. Hornbogen was seventh (34.78), Gorton 12th (35.47) and Gabrielli 15th (35.83) in slalom.
It was the first time West has skied at Schuss this season.
Petoskey dominated the boys meet, finishing with 54 points. Clarkston was second (77), Central third (85) and West fifth (166).
The Northmen were led by brothers Gunnar and Garret Lundteigen. Gunnar won the giant slalom (24.85) and was third in slalom (30.88). Garret came in third in giant slalom (25.10) and fifth in slalom (31.52).
Central was in second after the giant slalom, trailing Petoskey 27-32.
“But then Dirk (Phelps) went down in slalom,” Stanek said.
In the giant slalom, Kurt Frick took fourth (25.14), Tyler Sepanik fifth (25.32), Phelps sixth (25.38) and Zak Collins 17th (26.13). In the slalom, Frick placed eighth (31.85), Collins 11th (32.33), Sepanik 14th (32.69) and Noah Aulicino 20th (33.51).
“We’ve definitely got some work to do,” Stanek said. “We’re skiing some young skiers, but we’re happy with where we’re at right now.”
Ben Friar led West, finishing sixth in slalom (31.60) and 11th in giant slalom (25.73).
“He’s one of those guys who if he can put it together top to bottom will be pretty darn competitive,” Johnson said. “He’ll be in the mix.”
The Titans were without Austin Skibowski, who has a concussion.
Evan Culp came in 14th (25.85), Luca Roggenkamp 28th (30.02) and Marvin Lenz 31st (30.73) in the giant slalom. Ryan Geiser was 21st (33.58), Culp 23rd (34.02) and Roggenkamp 32nd (40.05) in the slalom.
West and Central compete Thursday in a Big North Conference meet at Nub’s Nob.