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Sage Rifkin Wins Jr. National Championship in Park City

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By Stan Pawlik

The past week was exciting for six Holiday Valley Freestyle Team members. Emily Hutching and both Matt and Nick DiDonato travelled to Park City, Utah, to ski the mogul event at the U.S. Junior National Championships. Matt and Nick also received invitations for the dual mogul event held on Sunday. Holiday Valley was also well represented at the aerial site with Emily Pawlik, Morghan Socha and Sage Rifkin all receiving invitations for the aerial and big air events.

The girls stole the show at the Utah Olympic Park aerial site. The venue was host to both the aerial and big air events. The day started with high winds, which put training on hold for several hours. Once training began, Sage, Morghan and Emily all stepped up their game and were the only girls in the competition hitting the big jump. This was the first time for all three hitting the large jump, which was 3.5 meters in height and 14 meters away from the landing. In the big air event, Sage did a big double spread eagle and won the event earning her the title of Jr. National Big Air Champion. Morghan also did a double spread eagle and finished third in the event. In her age group, Morghan brought home the gold. Both girls had great results in the aerial event as well. Morghan came away with the win in the F4 division and Sage took the silver in the F2 division.

Emily had a great start to the day, but the wind caused her some problem during training. She came into one of her jumps fast and then got hit by a tailwind, which pushed her further down the landing hill. She out jumped the landing and crashed at the bottom. Emily ended up with a deep cut on her lip and needed stitches. Unfortunately, this kept her out of both competitions.

The men’s mogul event had both Nick and Matt DiDonato competing. Nick lead the way with a solid run doing a 360 with an X and skiing strong through the middle section before doing a back flip with an X for the second jump. Nick finished the qualifying round in 18th place and advanced to the finals. In the finals, he again had a great run and managed to improve on his finish. When the event was over, Nick came away with a 15th place result. Of all the Eastern Division skiers in the event, Nick was second.

Not to be outdone, Matt also skied well. Matt started his run with a 360 on the top jump and then had a fast middle section of bumps. He also did a back flip with an X for his second jump, and narrowly missed qualifying for the finals and ended up in 24th place. Nick and Matt both competed in dual moguls on the final day of the event. Both pushed the limits with their speed and ended up crashing before the second jump.

In the women’s mogul competition, Emily Hutchings skied in her first Jr. National Championship. She skied well throughout the week and had a good run in the competition. Unfortunately, she did not qualify for the finals.

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