Weekend weather plays havoc with MMSST plans
On Friday, Jan. 5, 2017 Mammoth Mountain Race issued the following announcement, “Wow, what a storm and more to come …Road conditions are challenging for travel and snow conditions are too soft for racing, so we had to make a few adjustments to the events and training for this weekend.
Masters Team training has been cancelled…The Rokka GS races have been cancelled…The Minaret Challenge U 14 North Series GS was postponed and rescheduled for January 21 & 22…The Unbound Series Slopestyle Rev Tour qualifier was also postponed and reschedule… Enjoy the snow and stay safe!” Saturday morning MMSST’s Ben Wisner sent out a note saying, “Today’s training will be optional for all programs and coaches will meet those willing to brave the weather at their usual meeting places. Please dress warm with facemasks and layers a must.” By Sunday, everyone was advised to stay home and Mammoth Mountain shut down all lifts.
There was one event that did get off, but it wasn’t at Mammoth. It was was at Snow Summit, where U16-U21 members of Mammoth Mountain Ski Team spent Friday though Sunday racing in the Jim Bollingmo Memorial Wild West and WR JR Champs Qualifier. For the U16 athletes their three-day results go towards qualify for the WR U16 Champs to be held March 16-19, 2017 at Big Sky, MT. The U19s, who only raced in the slaloms, are trying to qualify for the WR JR Champs scheduled for March 9-14, 2017 at Schweitzer, ID.
U16 Head Coach Jimmy Whiteley, who traveled with the team down south and reported that they “had every type of weather, but winter snow.” After the ski area was hit with heavy rains on Thursday, the U16 athletes woke up to “near perfect hard snow racing conditions” on Friday. But that quickly changed on Saturday. After three hours of rain during the first run of slalom, the weather cleared and was “just wet and windy for the second run.” And Sunday was a completely different story. The racers found themselves competing in “spring like warm, sunny weather with salted courses.” Whiteley explained, the conditions “changed every 30 minutes”, and that the athletes constantly “had to adjust for the weather.” Whiteley was quick to praise one U16 athlete, Tommy Teslaa, who Whiteley called, “the breakout star of the weekend,” he went on to add he hasn’t had a result like that since he raced the Junior Village Championships as a U12.” Teslaa was 11th in the GS and finished 10th and fourth in the slaloms. When asked to comment on the race Teslaa responded, “the soft snow conditions from the rain on Saturday morning may have caused other racers to not finish or be disqualified.” How right he was. Whitely however attributes a lot of Teslaa’s weekend success to the fact that “Tommy worked very hard over the summer with the MMSST strength and conditioning program.”
Another Mammoth U16 athlete who skied strong was Bruno Amon-Franceschi, who placed sixth in the GS and then cam back to had third and fifth place results in the slaloms. Amon-Franceschi said he didn’t think he had ever “had that much consistency in the top six before.” In regards to qualifying for Champs, Amon-Franceschi admitted that he “really struggled last year”, but he feels he is on the right track this year. He said he thinks his early season training is really paying off. During the summer he traveled with the team to New Zealand for a summer on snow camp and then in November he was invited to the “Punks and Gates” camp put on by Eddie Mozen and the Far West Masters. Amon-Franceschi said the early season camp gave him a “good jump start,” and that the Masters “helped a lot.”
On the women’s side Evin Haworth was eighth in the GS, had a DNF for her second race and then came back and placed 10th in the second slalom. Haworth added a little more insight into how the team handled the weather saying, “The weather on Friday was really nice, so it made it even worse to wake up on Saturday to rain pouring. It was all about staying dry, a few of us on the Mammoth team had on our bright yellow ponchos that we bought from the hard ware store. It was pretty miserable to have to ski in the rain and flat light, but the rain started to clear a little bit through the day, so it made the race bearable. It was still fun as always to have everyone on the team up at the start cheering each other on, even in the rain. After I dnf-ed my first run on Saturday, I talked to all my coaches and my dad to see what they saw on the run and what I needed to improve on. After I cooled off enough to process the information, I went and took a bunch of free runs focusing on the things my coaches saw until I felt like my skiing was getting back to normal. Then I took my fun run, running second to last didn’t offer the smoothest course, but it was great to get my confidence back and to get to push myself without fear of crashing again, because if I did it wouldn’t really matter.” She finished adding, “I think all of this helped me push hard for the slalom race on Sunday. Conditions were super soft and hard to race on Sunday. But it was obviously a much better finish. It wasn’t the podium finish I’m working towards, but I definitely had two solid finishes this weekend.”
U16 Women who had top 15 results in addition to Haworth were: Kendall Lach 12th in the SL. U19 Women raced in two slaloms, MMSST racers were Mack Carkeet, who placed fourth and second; Sydney Snelbaker, took a second; Delaney Kearns had two front page results taking a 12th and 15th; Miranda Betts was 15th. In addition to U16 men TeSlaa and Amon Franceschi Charlie Regelbrugge placed fifth in the slalom. U19 Men: Ben Ellis had two podium finishes taking third and then second; Sheldon French was 10th and fourth; Luke Davenport 12th and fifth; Perry Moyer, eighth; Lachlan Anderson 14th, and ninth; Erik Eisen fifth and 11th; Connor Staley fourth and 12th; Casey Felgar 11th. Other MMST athletes who competed were: Sasha Mueller, Anastasia Seator-Braun, Nikki Sadat, Taylor Wilkison, Sabina Brink, Elizabeth Gammariello, Chiara Lorico-Rappa, Keely Podosin, Hallie Clute, Silvia Lorico-Rappa, Mason Haworth, Kian Sadat and Ned Jacobs.
Mammoth Mountain Ski and Snowboard Team, Then and Now
Friday, Jan. 13 marks the date seventy-six years ago that local residents met and organized the Mammoth Mountain Ski Club and Winter Sports Organization. By March 1, 1941 the club had grown to 123 charter members, and racers started listing their affiliation as Mammoth Mountain Ski Club. World War ll slowed things down, but as soon as the war was over Eastern Sierra skiing activities resumed as before. Dave McCoy built permanent tows on McGee and used a roving permit to run tows on Mammoth. At the same time McCoy was also coaching a number of junior ski racers. He coached them on McGee when the snow was there, and on Mammoth when snow permitted him to get there. By 1952 five of his racers were named to the Junior National Team including: Bob Kinmont, Kenny Lloyd, Dennis Osborn, Jill Kinmont, and Audra Jo Nicholson. However, in 1955 McCoy’s devotion to ski racing was put to the ultimate test when his protégé Jill Kinmont fell in an Olympic tryout race and became a quadriplegic. After Jill’s accident McCoy questioned whether he should continue to coach, but he soon realized that the personal challenges his racers faced also helped form them into fine human beings. So with that in mind, he decided to carry on as a coach. He continued coaching the team until 1970 when he turned the reins over to a younger group of coaches. They helped grow the team and continued to produce outstanding racers including the Thompson brothers, Heidi Dahlgren, Matt Walker, Eric Mann, and Hannah Victory just to name a few.
Mammoth Mountain continued to grow as a ski area and in 2005 the resort was sold to Starwood Capital. McCoy was no longer part of the operation, but his beloved ski team continued on. Although, by then the team wasn’t just limited to ski racing, but included a variety of programs for skiers and snowboards from six years old to twenty and beyond. Today the Mammoth Mountain Ski and Snowboard Team has programs for athletes from entry-level all the way though elite.
The alpine programs include the Mighty Mite Team for young skiers age six to eight. The focus is basic skiing skills and acquiring mileage on skis, while learning how to handle the mountain environment. It is a fun, playful environment for the kids to ski, learn and interact with other kids their age. The U10 program accommodates eight and nine-year-old athletes. The focus is set on acquiring skills and mileage while developing good technique. Skiers are introduced to slalom and giant slalom racing. Skiers then move into the U12 Team an intermediate racing program. Athletes train in slalom, giant slalom and big giant slalom techniques, and develop sound fundamental skills required for racing and start to understand tactics. The U14 Team serves a wide range of skiing abilities. It is a combined intermediate/advanced racing program for skiers who have limited racing experience, but also provides more focused race training for the athletes who have several years of racing behind them. This group strives to be more efficient with movements to achieve the desired turn that matches the racecourse.
By the time the skiers reach 14 years old and become U16 racers thing start to become serious. The U16 Team is an intermediate to advanced level racing program. Technique and tactical refinement is the focus of this group. Skiers develop solid racing technique while learning course tactics in all disciplines, and use imagery to help performance. Skiing skills are further developed with a freeskiing emphasis on hard, fast skiing in challenging terrain. While the program still provides a fun, social environment for the athletes, members work hard to improve and achieve their personal goals. The U19-21 program is geared toward the athlete who is serious about their ski racing. Training sessions require focus and motivation to refine skills and create positive changes in technique and tactics. This program is designed for athletes seeking National Team nomination, NCAA competition, higher education and a strong desire to improve every day. Some of the athletes to come through this program include Olympians Stacey Cook and John Teller.
There are two other programs for skiers the Charger All-Mountain program and the Mammoth Mountain Freeski Team. The Charger program is for skiers nine and up and emphasizes technical skill development, all-mountain skiing, safety awareness and some competition in the form of skier cross and Big Mountain contests. Skiers learn to ski groomers, steeps, powder, crud, bumps, jumps, and other adventurous terrain, as well as participate in Unbound Series events.
The Freeski Team offers programs for skiers nine years and up. The Freeski Team focuses on developing the skills needed to ski Mammoth’s parks and pipes while exploring the whole mountain. There are a wide variety of programs to suite all levels and ages. The team has a history of producing some of the best up and coming skiers in the world. Current team members Carly Margulies, Abigale Hansen and Cameron Brodrick have been named to the U.S. Team and compete at top-level international events.
Mammoth Mountain Snowboard Team has a history of producing some of the best riders in the world. Since the Snowboard Team originated, team members have regularly moved on to the U.S. and International Teams and competed at top-level international event, including the Olympics and X Games. The Mammoth Mountain Snowboard Team has produced such names as John Jackson (two time Transworld Rider of the Year), Eric Jackson (Transworld Video Part of the Year winner), Greg Bretz (two time Olympian), Chloe Kim (X Game two time Gold medalist and US Team member) and Brandon Davis (US Slopestyle Team member and World Snowboard Tour Slopestyle Champion).
Like the alpine team the snowboard programs cover ages six and up including: The Mini Shredders team for young riders (six to eight years old) who are working to develop the “FUNdamentals” of snowboarding. Their training includes disciplines in halfpipe, slopestyle, boardercross, slalom, giant slalom and rails. Approximately 50% of training is spent freeriding around the mountain looking for powder, trees and steeps, and riding the groomed runs. Freeriding is considered important for attaining the mileage necessary to practice and refine the skills the coaches have taught. Moving on athletes enter the Intro Team (nine years and up.) This team is for snowboarders who want to test out a structured coaching program. The purpose is to progress skills in all aspects of snowboarding while having fun and exploring the mountain. Members will tackle all the terrain Mammoth has to offer, progressing toward parks and pipes. The coaches will set goals, whether to improve all-mountain riding or learn tricks in terrain parks and pipes, and work with the athletes all season long to achieve them.
The Development Team is next and is typically for riders working to develop the fundamentals of snowboarding. Again training includes all the events and about 50% of training time is spent freeriding around the mountain looking for powder, trees and steeps, and ripping the groomed runs.
By the time a snowboarder reaches the age of 13, things start to become more intense. The Junior Team program is for athletes who want to take their snowboarding to the next level. The program is broken into groups based on skill level and competition aspirations. Refining snowboarding skills, learning complex tricks and developing routines for competition will be the goal of most riders in this program.
ILC/Homeschool Team is for athletes who have a flexible school schedule or are enrolled in the ILC School program in Mammoth. This Team is based 100% around competition and focuses on progressing snowboard skills, learning difficult and complex tricks while developing routines for competition. Competitions range from the Unbound USASA events, Nationals, Revolution Tour and other amateur events. This Team follows the same schedule as the Elite Team, but is for athletes who may have the aspirations to become an elite athlete but still need to develop the skills before being selected. Finally the Elite Team is reserved for the highest caliber athletes who have the skill, attitude, maturity and work ethic of an Elite Athlete. This Team is based 100% around competition and focuses on progressing snowboarding skills, learning difficult and complex tricks while developing routines for competition.
The current MMSST program continues the McCoy philosophy that promotes producing top athletes, while developing “fine human beings.” Athletes learn life skills required to participate in society. Education, courage, discipline, accountability, integrity and teamwork are all blended into the team experience. Success on and off the hill is measured by achievements, not just results with the hope of developing a lifelong passion for skiing and snowboarding and the mountains. All the while maintaining the goal Dave McCoy instilled in all of his racers, to “have fun.”