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Versatile HRV ski girls claim second downhill title in three years

March 10, 2012

You would be hard-pressed to find a more rounded team than the Hood River Valley girls ski team.

The Eagle girls won the girls combined downhill, giant slalom and freestyle titles over the weekend at the OISRA championships on Mount Hood.

"The girls performed at a really high level of skiing against teams like Jesuit," said HRV head coach Scott Keillor.

The state championship was the second for the Eagle girls in the past three years.

The Eagle boys finished eighth as a team, placing the Eagles second in the combined boys and girls standings, behind Jesuit, which took second in both the boys and girls standings.

The Eagle girls got a first-place finish individually from Lucy McLean in the GS and won the event as a team as well.

In the slalom Ricki Swearingen took second for HRV and the Eagles took second as a team in the event. Those finishes were enough to get the Eagles the combined team title.

Keillor was extremely pleased with the performance of his team up and down the lineup.

"It meant we had a little bit of a cushion to carry us to the combined win," he said.

The Eagle girls also dominated in the three-team freestyle state competition.

Hannah Hurley won the state slopestyle title and Kirra Paulus won the halfpipe title.

Paulus won the state Ski Meister award, given to a skier who competes in both downhill and freestyle and excels in both.

Keillor said he wants to continue to push the concept that former coach Peter Nance developed of thinking of the freestyle and downhill teams as one united team and said the award reflects the growing strength in both disciplines.

While the Eagle girls stole the spotlight with three individual titles, the Eagle boys did not have a bad week either, particularly in the freestyle.

The freestyle competitors had to make do in rough conditions Wednesday at Meadows.

Competing shortly after more than a foot of snow fell, the halfpipe and slopestyle events went down in rough conditions.

Still, the riders battled through. The halfpipe came first and right off the bat the Eagles had a pair of titles. Sean Lund won the boys halfpipe with a 41.75-point best run.

Hannah Hurley joined him on the podium with a best run of 35.50 points as the Eagles swept the event.

In the slopestyle, blizzard-like conditions continued to pound the course, restricting the number of jumps and boxes the riders could use.

Paulus didn't let the weather deter her as she fought through the conditions to take first place, edging Hurley by .68 of a point.

Thanks to their wins the duo wound up splitting the girls combined freestyle title.

The Eagle boys placed three in the top 10, with Brendan Kerr taking second, Eric Nance fourth and Taylor Cramer 10th.

While the freestylers were competing, the downhill racers were supposed to have a training day. Many cut it short due to the bad weather, but the Eagle skiers stuck it out and practiced as much as possible on the Reynolds run at Ski Bowl.

"We were the only team that set up for Reynolds on training day and it really prepared the kids," Keillor said. "The team did very well to perform in those sorts of conditions in freestyle and racing events."

The competition on the girls side of the downhill competitions quickly turned into a duel between HRV and Jesuit.

Lucy McLean set the tone for the Eagles by winning the GS by a half a second. Swearingen made it into the 10 with a 10th-place finish 4.83 seconds back of first.

Jesuit entered the day five seconds back of the Eagle girls for the combined team title, and the Eagles did enough to make sure they would not catch up. Swearingen was edged by .32 of second by Kathleen Daly-Jensen of Lincoln for the slalom title, but she beat Jena Jansky of Jesuit for second place by 1.23 seconds. McLean finished in fifth. Korey Cimock took 18th as the only other HRV skier in the top 20. Jesuit put three skiers in the top 10, but it was not enough to make up the HRV girls advantage.

McKenzie Schwab of Horizon Christian placed 25th in the slalom and 29th in the GS.

The Eagle boys had one skier in the top 20 in either the slalom or GS. Austin Keillor took 19th in the GS with a time of 2:36.51. Ryan Colesar was the top finisher in the slalom, taking 27th with a time of 1:51.50.

Keillor is already looking toward next year as the team brings back a large group of underclassmen in all disciplines and focuses on returning the entire team, freestylers and downhillers, to the top of the heap as one group.

"Hopefully other teams will bring more kids," he said.

And while Keillor is sad to say goodbye to a strong group of seniors, he is excited about the future of the team.

"Hats off to these athletes and parents; it's great working with them," he said.

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