Purgatory Alpine Ski Team racers are headed for the Junior Olympics.Tom Olson, Curtis Eggleston, Sonja Fleming and Liam Wiess of the Purgatory race team qualified for the 2009 Junior Olympics at the final qualifying races of the season last weekend.
Olson, Eggleston and Fleming raced in Aspen and Winter Park.
Wiess raced at the Prater Cup in Crested Butte.
The Purgatory J3 racers (ages 13-14), who raced in Aspen and Winter Park, are Stephanie Bowles, Fleming, Jobe Sarvash, Beau Biernacki, Scott Schwab, Nick Deininger, Olson and EgglestonThe J4 racers (ages 11-12), who raced in Crested Butte, are Katarina Seibert, Megan Pope and Wiess.
The Junior Olympic qualifying events featured the top 100 male and top 100 female racers in each age category from the entire Rocky Mountain Division.
Olson, in just his third year on the team, recorded some of the best races in recent memory, finishing seventh in the Aspen super-G, followed by a third-place podium finish in giant slalom at Winter Park. Eggleston joined Olson with a top-10 finish in giant slalom. Combined with a 17th-place finish in slalom, Eggleston clinched a spot on his third consecutive Junior Olympic team.
Fleming, a two-time Junior Olympian, raced to a 21st-place finish in super-G and then blistered the tough Winter Park course for an 11th in slalom to secure her spot on the team.
Wiess put on a clinic in Crested Butte, demonstrating his versatility by taking fifth in super-G and eighth in giant slalom. This is also the second consecutive year that Wiess has qualified for the Junior Olympics.
"All of our kids have worked hard this year, and we're proud to have qualified four athletes for the JOs," head coach Leah LeSage said.
"It gets tough when you race against the best of the best, and some of the athletes that did not qualify skied great races."
Katarina Seibert had a 23rd and two other top-30 finishes, just missing the team. And Stephanie Bowles posted a top-40 finish.
"The differences in times for racers at this level are tenths of seconds, which can be heartbreaking, like when Nick (Deininger) misses the team by only two spots," LeSage said.
The Rocky/Central Junior Olympics will feature the top 80 girls and top 80 boys from 15 states, and will be held in Vail and Winter Park in mid-March. [email protected]