Youths find success at Junior Olympics

— Five members of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club returned from Sun Valley, Idaho, this week after successful campaigns at the J2 Junior Olympic Championships.

Leading the pack was 16-year-old Jennifer Allen, who placed fifth in the overall standings after cracking the top 10 in the downhill, super-G and giant slalom races. She was 13th in the slalom event.

"I'm really happy; it was just a lot of fun," Allen said. "Making it to (and winning) the Junior Olympics is always a huge goal of mine. But it's not the only reason I ski -- I like to go because it's a lot of fun."

Allen's consistent performance made her the top Steamboat skier of the week and helped her improve on a ninth overall finish in last year's championships. It was almost enough to help her reach the U.S. National Championships, but she fell just short.

"That's also a goal of mine," Allen said about nationals. "I was really close to making it this year, but I think I needed to win last week to make it."

Allen's teammate Lauren Let--son also had a strong showing in Friday's slalom race. Her two-run combined time of 1 minute, 53.80 seconds was the best for a racer from Steamboat Springs.

Julia Ford, who attends the Holderness School in New Hampshire, took top honors for the week.

She won the slalom race in a time of 1:50.54. That time combined with her fourth in the downhill and fourth in the giant slalom gave the promising young skier from the Eastern Division first place in the overall standings.

The J2 Junior Olympic Cham--pionships opened March 7 with training, and the opening downhill event was Wednesday.

Jennifer Van Wagner, who skis for the Rowmark Ski Academy in Salt Lake City, won the downhill event in a time of 1:09.02. Aspen's Alice McKennis was second, and Park City, Utah, skier Kate Williams placed third.

Steamboat's Allen placed sixth, and teammates Mary Rachel Hostetter and Lauren Letson were 23rd and 41st, respectively.

The only other Steamboat girl to qualify for the race, Anabelle McLean, was injured in downhill training and decided to rest the day of the event.

On Thursday, the skiers moved to the super-G course, where Vail's Christa Ghent captured the national title. Jackson Hole, Wyo., skier Melissa Gill was second, and Burke Mountain, Vt., skier Katherine Dunleavy was third.

Allen finished eighth in the race to lead the Steamboat skiers. McLean placed 29th, and Letson was 38th. Hostetter skied off course in her first run.

The slalom took place Friday, with Julia Ford taking top honors and Letson leading the Steamboat team in fifth place. Allen raced to a 13th place result, and Hostetter was 22nd. McLean skied off course in her first run.

The women wrapped up the week on the giant slalom course Saturday.

Allen tied Killington's Kristen Leggett for seventh place to lead the Steamboat contingent once again. Williams won the final race in a time of 1:37.07.

Taylor Coe represented Steam--boat on the men's side with a 49th in the downhill, a 28th in the super-G, a 13th in the giant slalom and a 21st in the slalom.

The men's overall title went to Tommy Ford (no relation to Julia) who won the super-G, giant slalom and slalom events. He was third in the downhill.

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