By Caitlin Croft

With the holidays in our rear view, junior racers all over WNY are buckling down for what is looking to be an eventful 2019 race season.

Mother Nature has made many races a challenge with rain, sleet and varying snow conditions on the race hills. Thankfully this past weekend she was kind for the opening weekend of the Empire Cup Series.

In these races, athletes will qualify for the Winter Empire State Games held in Lake Placid. The state is split into two divisions, East and West. This past weekend two slaloms were held at Holiday Valley and HoliMont.

Day One, Holiday Valley

U21/19 Women: Lauren Thomas of Stratton Mountain School (formerly Holiday Valley) won the race by 2.87 seconds. Zoe Knauss of HoliMont and Hayly Fredrickson (HV) rounded out the podium with the silver and bronze respectively. Kate Masliwec (HO) finished 6th, 

U21/19 Men: Michael Mercer (HV) finished 4th, Nicholas Scott (HO) 10th, Maxxon Solly (HO) 11th, Lucas Johnson (HO) 17th, William Peters (HO) 25th and Joshua Allegra (HV) 29th.

U16 Women: Simona Muscarella (HO) took home the silver medal. Amanda Arteaga (HO) finished 16th, Rory Sauereisen (HV) 17th, Gianna Ferrara (HO) 18th, Cece Carls (HO) 19th and Isabella Stringer (HO) 20th. Molly Basadur (HO) placed 22nd, Sarah Kelly (HO) 24th, Heather Dunlap (HO) 26th and Charleigh Priestman (HO) 32nd.

U16 Men: Logan Kidd (HO) found himself on the podium with a third-place finish. Ross Fuller (HV) took 4th, David Rintoul (HO) 6th, Will Knauss (HO) 7th, Alexander Wojnowski (HV) 8th, Michael Turnbull (HO) 12th and William Dunn (HV) 14th. Logan McCulloch (HO) finished 16th, Matthew King (HO) 18th, Nicholas Koerber (HV) 19th, Ian McKenna 20th, Ryan Gambrell (HO) placed 28th and Peter McKenna (HO) 30th.

 Day Two, HoliMont

U21/19 Women: HoliMont’s Zoe Knauss walked away with the gold medal and Kate Masliwec (HO) finished 4th.

U21/19 Men: Nicholas Scott (HO) improved on his result and finished with the bronze medal. Lucas Johnson (HO) 6th, Jes Sauereisen (HV) 14th, William Hubert (HV) 19th, Michael Mercer (HV) 21st and William Peters (HO) 22nd.

U16 Women: Isabella Stringer (HO) finished 5th, Charleigh Priestman (HO) 7th, Rory Sauereisen (HV) 11th, Megan Peters (HO) 13th, Amanda Arteaga (HO) 14th and Gianna Ferrara (HO) 15th. Brooklyn Napolitano (HO) took 21st, Heather Dunlap (HO) 23rd, Sophia Gambino (HV) 24th and Brooke Willer (HV) 28th.

U16 Men: Mitch Azcarate (HV) took home the bronze medal. David Rintoul (HO) finished 5th, Will Knauss (HO) 6th, Alexander Wojnowski (HV) 7th, Logan Kidd (HO) 10th, William Dunn (HV) 11th and Ian McKenna (HO) 12th. Logan McCulloch (HO) placed 15th and Peter McKenna (HO) finished 18th.

The next Empire Cup races will be two Giant Slaloms held at Greek Peak in Cortland.