Waterville Valley BBTS athletes rocked USSA’s U16 Nationals at Park City and the organization’s CEO & Executive Director, Peter Stokloza, fills us in on the club’s successes:
The USSA U16 Alpine Nationals were held in Park City, Utah from March 29th-April 3rd. WVBBTS-SEF was extremely well represented and experienced unprecedented success. This by-invitation-only event saw 54 U16 men, and 54 U16 women participating in a 7-day program that included three days of racing as well as sport science education and subjective skiing skills assessment. Each of the three regions sent 8 men and 8 women born in 1998, 5 men and 5 women born in 1999 and 5 men and 5 women born in 2000 to this prestigious event. Patrick Rimi, USSA’s Alpine Director, and Lester Keller, Regional Alpine Development Director headed up the project.
WVBBTS athletes arrived in Park City to familiarize themselves with the venue and enjoy some big mountain skiing two days before the competitions began. A few even ran into World Cup Champion and Olympic Gold Medal winner Ted Ligety while he was out shredding the slopes.
On March 29 it was time to put the skis to the snow and show USSA what we could do.
In the opening SL competition, WVBBTS Pinnacle athlete Hunter Brayton stole the show, finishing first for his year of birth (’99) and, more impressively, 2nd overall in the competition. At just 14, he showed real guts competing successfully against guys as old as 16 and in the process landed on the podium twice in one day. Tatum Coutu and Emma Ryan (Waterville Valley Academy “WVA” athletes, YOB 2000) were strong in their age groups, finishing 5th and 7th respectively.
The following day competitors had to brave difficult conditions in the Giant Slalom as temperatures climbed well into the 40s. Coutu and Brayton both showed tremendous determination, each placing 4th in their age divisions on the soft, salted, sun baked courses. Both runs were extremely technically challenging and set to the maximum vertical drop allowed on the already difficult, famed CB’s race hill.
The next day was scheduled for the parallel SL, but the race was postponed due to unsafe conditions. Instead the athletes enjoyed an afternoon of sport science education led by USSA’s sport science department.
Fortunately, temperatures dropped that night and, despite extraordinarily demanding conditions, BBTS racers showed up to race the next day in the parallel SL. It was a fantastic showing for the BBTS team as all competitors advanced at least as deep as the “round of eight” in this head-to-head knock out format.
Giovanni Lazzari, also a Pinnacle athlete, was the star of the day. After experiencing a couple of tough DNFs in SL and GS, he showed up a different young man on this day. He battled through a series of qualifying and knock-out rounds to advance to the finals. The conditions were brutal as group after group ran the same courses throughout the day and the field dwindled one by one. After the first run of the finals, Lazzari held a lead of .3 seconds against his final competitor. On the second run a mistake just before the flats cost him the win, but nevertheless he finished an outstanding 2nd place.
Tatum Coutu also showed the crowd that she was the real deal and a force to be reckoned with. Coutu showed tremendous consistency throughout the scored competitions to finish just off of the overall podium in 4th place against an extremely deep and strong YOB ’00 ladies’ field.
When the dust settled, Hunter Brayton finished first in the overall for all YOB ’99s in the country. Brayton, a Waterville Valley resident, has trained at BBTS throughout his life – through the BBTS Club, the Peak Middle School, and now in the new Pinnacle High School. Brayton is mentored by BBTS’s Alpine Director, Tom Barbeau, and follows a strict year-round Burdenko training regime that has toned and conditioned him for peak performance.
Adam Chadbourne, BBTS Director of Athletic Performance, accompanied the five athletes and characterized their overall performance as “Spectacular!”
Chadbourne went on to say, “We’re all extremely proud of these athletes, their hard work and determination over the season has paid big dividends. Now they need to stay focused, remain centered and keep their momentum going.”
Chadbourne says he received several compliments from USST coaches, including one who asked, “When the heck did WVA become a powerhouse?”
I’d like to answer that question for everyone. WVBBTS Snowsports Educational Foundation has been strategically moving towards our goal of becoming the best snowsports development club in the nation. Key hires, the Pinnacle High School, fundraising for significant capital improvements, realignment with Core Values and, most importantly, superior athletes and coaches across all three snowsports adds up to an unbeatable combination. Our nickname isn’t the Evil Empire for nothing!
Peter Stokloza, CEO & Executive Director