Falcons closing in on division banner

Colfax snowboarders stumble at Sugar Bowl but retain large lead in Central II standings
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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NORDEN — Despite disastrous days for its top riders, the Colfax High snowboard team maintained a mammoth overall lead in the Central Division II standings after Monday’s slalom race at Sugar Bowl. Lisa Holm was disqualified in her first of two races and finished the morning 43rd in the field of 46 following a sixth-place overall finish at NorthStar a week ago. In boys action, Danny Kern, the overall winner two weeks running, lost control on a turn near the finish of his second race and was forced to hike back up the hill to the missed gate. He finished the day 27th overall. Still, the Falcons lead the division with 1,474 total points, 80 ahead of second-place North Tahoe’s 1,394. Placer is a close third with 1,390. “Even if we repeat this bad scenario two more times, we still will prevail,” veteran coach Jack Morgan said. “That’s a pretty good lead we have.” It’s a lead Colfax has steadily increased over the season’s four races, thanks to some strong individual performances on the boys side and an impressive pack of junior girls who have placed near the top and in sequence for much of the winter. The youthful Falcons aren’t as concerned with the division banner they’ll earn after the final slalom and giant slalom races the next two weeks as they are with preparing for the state championships. “It’s a marker,” Morgan said of the banner. “It’s prestigious and we’ve won it once before, I think. It’s nice because you get to hang it in the gym, but all these schools are all so close and the coaches are all so close, so the division title, it’s like ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ but we really are looking to state. We’re looking to qualify six boys and six girls for state championships.” Teams can bring as many riders to the state championships as they can qualify in the 21 division slots. Holm and Kern figure to be among the top area qualifiers during breakout seasons. Kern has finally grown used to his racing snowboard, which is only about half as wide as a regular board. “Last year was my rough year,” said Kern, who qualified for state in his second varsity season as a sophomore last year but didn’t race well. “Last year was my first year trying out the race board, but I’ve got a good feel for it now,” he said. Morgan likes Kern’s chances at the state championships. “I’ve got to believe he’ll be in the top 10, because he is close to being the top in our division, and our division is the strongest division in the state,” he said. Kern’s crash in the second race Monday came after he posted the second-best time in his first trip down the course. “There was a little roller and I wasn’t really prepared for it,” he said. “I got a little bit of air off of it and then I was a little wobbly. Kern glanced over to watch Davis’ top rider and Auburn Ski Club teammate Paul Kamisky — who placed first overall Monday in 1 minute, 10.48 seconds — pass him. “That threw me off so I wasn’t looking at the course,” he said. “I didn’t set up early for the last really hard turn, and I blew out on my toe-edge turn.” Kern’s 27th place finish was his worst of the season, what Morgan calls a “throwaway.” Each rider’s best two finishes in each of the three slalom and giant slalom races count toward qualification. “No one’s got a lock on it until the end,” Morgan said. “If they’re up in the top 10 it would be very difficult to get displaced, but if you’re sitting down around 15, 16, 17, somebody could sneak in and bump you off.” It makes the final two races that much more important for many riders. Bear River’s Daniel Price was the top local finisher in the boys race, placing sixth overall to lead the Bruins to a second-place finish, their best boys finish this season. Placer’s Pete Porata was eighth overall to lead the Hillmen, followed by Colfax’s Sam Rydell 11th and Bear River’s Bren Schenk and Matt Davidson 12th and 13th, respectively. The Bruins’ Chris Kammerer was 15th, while Steven Swisley and Chris O’Connor of the Hillmen finished 17-18 and Isaac Merritt and Michael Murphy of the Falcons placed 20-21. Placer’s Caty O’Connor cruised to victory again in girls action, blazing through two runs in 1 minute, 11.57 seconds. Shelby Young and Hannah West of Colfax placed fourth and seventh, respectively. “We haven’t had a strong girls team in quite a while,” said Morgan, whose Colfax ladies were eighth at the state championships last year. “We’ve always had a strong boys team. With the strong women’s team we have I’m excited about the prospects of doing a lot better and having the whole team stand on the podium at the state championships. That would be exciting.” Placer’s Jeni Dawson placed eighth, followed by teammate Erika Steppig 10th and Colfax’s Erin Murphy 11th. Placer’s Emma O’Bray was 16th, followed in order by Colfax’s Hannah Harrison, Placer’s Dani Ferretti and Colfax’s Frankie Mendenhall. Bear River’s top girl was Demi Ganster in 31st, followed by teammates Jen Marso (32nd) and Kelsey Mayo (34th).