Article written by Tim Cohee, President of Far West USSA Division and President of Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Brian Francis, a Menlo Park native and a four year member of the Kirkwood Ski Education Foundation Ski Team, earned a spot on the Far West J4 Junior Olympic Team, set to compete in the Western Region Junior Olympics in Bogus Basin, Idaho March 21-24. Brian finished among the top three racers among a pre-selected field of the top 15 J4s in the Far West Region, which includes over 100 J4 athletes. The J4 Festival format is one of the most challenging all junior racing, with six runs in one day, three slalom and giant slalom, with the top two finishes in each discipline counting towards the overall place. This year’s J4 Festival was held under very difficult snowy conditions at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort on Saturday, February 23rd.
“The pressure to perform in this format is amazing, given a season’s work all comes down to one day, six runs,” said long time KSEF coach and leader of the J4s, Mark Payne. “Brian was steady and focused, and did not get rattled when he had trouble on a few runs, as almost everyone did. It all came down to the last run, slalom, his sixth run of the day, in almost whiteout conditions, and he nailed it to capture the third and final spot. It’s hard to put this performance in perspective, but there aren’t a lot of 12 year olds who could have done this under these conditions. It goes well beyond ski ability, and Brian is one of those rare athletes who can remain calm and focused in a pressure cooker.”
Francis is among 15 athletes who have qualified for the J4 Junior Olympics throughout regions in the Western United States, including Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and California. They will go head-to-head at Bogus Basin Ski Resort just outside Boise, Idaho in late March in slalom, giant slalom and super giant slalom.
“All of KSEF is extremely proud of Brian Francis, as he represents everything that is good about junior ski racing,” said KSEF Head Coach Guenther Birgmann. “He is a great student, loves to ski, and is polite and respectful of his teammates, just an overall great young man. He will excel in whatever he does, and we are glad to have him as a role model for our many younger KSEF athletes.”