On Saturday (March 4), 15 athletes aged 9-15 from the Taos Winter Sports Team’s Gateway Division braved 60-mile-per-hour winds to compete in a Giant Slalom Race, dubbed the “Fun Race."
Skiers competed on Exhibition, a blue ski run at Angel Fire Ski Resort. For many of these athletes, this was their first experience at a real race.
“When I skied out of the gate it was so awesome — I felt like an Olympic skier," said 9-year-old Jasper Simpson, who won a silver medal in the U10 boys division.
Three other TWST athletes also made the podium, with Eleanor Brier earning a bronze in the U16 girls division, Meno Krai placing third in the U10 boys, and Lhotse Johnson speeding to third place in the U10 girls, just 0.05 seconds ahead of Ama Mithoefer, who came in fourth.
“I love racing through the gates as fast as I can,” Lhotse said. “I think I could have done better, but I’m proud of my results.”
In the U10 boys division, Declan MacDavitt and Xanti Hayett finished fifth and sixth, respectively, both less than a second away from the podium. Esteban Lones finished seventh, and Asher Tawil finished tenth.
All of the other participating athletes had strong top-10 finishes, with Rio Johnson (U12) placing fifth; Vivian Haigh (U12) seventh; Mac Otto fifth and Otto Schultz sixth in the U14 boys division. Jack Delu (U16) placed fifth and June Thornton (U10) came in ninth.
“The Gateway Program prepares our younger athletes to transition to our Alpine Race or Big Mountain Freeride competitive teams," explained Gateway Head Coach Rosey Hayett. “We provide a foundation of skills, mountain citizenship and a love for being on the mountain that will prepare these kids for a lifetime of success and enjoyment of the sport.”
Coach Jeff “Mugzy” Mugleston added, “Our results are even more impressive because we were competing against the race teams from Santa Fe and other mountains, who had their speed suits and racing skis, while we were out there in our parkas and powder skis, totally holding our own.”
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