From Nordic to alpine racing and freeskiing, Vermont’s junior athletes made waves this season at international competitions. Here are a few rippers to watch.
On Jan. 21, Stratton Mountain School student and Peru resident Will Koch made history in Lausanne, Switzerland, becoming, along with teammate Kendall Kramer of Fairbanks, Alaska, the first Americans to earn individual medals in cross country skiing in the Winter Youth Olympic Games. Koch earned a bronze medal in the 10K Classic race with a time of 27:29.5. Will’s father, four-time Olympian Bill Koch, was there to cheer on his son (and record his splits) as Will competed on the very same course where Bill senior won his first World Cup title in 1982.
Another Vermonter, Ben Ritchie of Waitsfield, was one of 15 athletes named on Feb. 18 to U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s team for the 2020 FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships. The competition will be held in Narvik, Norway, from March 5-14. At 20, Ritchie is currently a member of the U.S. Ski Team’s Alpine B squad—a move he made this season after a year on the Development team. At the 2019 Junior World Ski Championships, he scored a silver medal in the slalom and finished second in the mixed team parallel event. You can find out how he did in 2020 at vtsports.com.
And Mad River Glen represented Vermont well at the 2020 International Freeskiing Association Junior Nationals at Grand Targhee, Wyo., in February. Luke Miele, who has been a contender at this event in the past, skied a big line, threw in multiple airs and scored first out of 38 competitors in the boys ages 12-14 category. Minna Kotke earned third out of five in the females under 12 category. Teams came from around the country, representing ski clubs from Aleyeska, Alaska to Crested Butte, Colo., to Alta, Utah.
Featured Photo: Teenager and Mad River Glen freeskier Luke Miele gets some air out west. Photo by L. Gentry.