When you sit down in front of your television next February to watch the ski jumping competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, remember this name — Blaz Pavlic.
The 18-year-old Slovenian had one heck of a coming out party over the weekend at the 95th Harris Hill Ski Jump competition in Brattleboro, sweeping both the Pepsi Challenge on Saturday and the Fred Harris Memorial Tournament on Sunday, and setting a new Harris Hill distance record in the process.
Pavlic broke the hill record with a jump of 104 meters in Sunday’s competition. He broke the old record of 102 meters set in 2010 by two-time Harris Hill Chris Lamb, who is now attending Marlboro College.
“Sorry, dude,” Pavlic told Lamb afterward.
“I’m glad that you got it,” Lamb replied.
“In the air, I thought, ‘I can’t land this,’” Pavlic said.
“But you did,” said Lamb.
And the thousands of spectators in attendance went wild, clapping and cheering and, in a ski jumping tradition, clanging cowbells.
“The headwind helped me,” Pavlic said of his historic jump. “It lifted me up, and then I just said, ‘Go for it.’”
Brian Wallace, 23, of St. Paul, Minn., placed second and Zak Silih, 21, of Slovenia third.
Saturday’s preliminary event, the Pepsi Challenge, saw the same order of finish.
Brattleboro native Spencer Knickerbocker, Lamb’s classmate at Marlboro College, did double-duty at Harris Hill, as he also helped the snowmaking crew prepare and maintain the 90-meter ski jump for the competition.
He said understands why his fellow athletes — especially those from Europe — marvel at how such a small town can draw such a big turnout.
“This is the size of crowd they get for World Cup,” Knickerbocker said. “The amount of effort that goes into one weekend here must surprise them.”
A historic win for Susan Dunklee
• On Feb. 19, Vermont biathlete Susan Dunklee achieved a historic first. The Barton resident and daughter of nordic ski legend Stan Dunklee became the first American woman to capture a biathlon individual medal at an Olympic or World Cup event.
Dunklee won a silver medal in the women’s 12.5-kilometer event at the at the 2017 IBU Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria, finishing just 4.6 seconds behind Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, who won the event in 33 minutes, 13.8 seconds.
Finishing second to Dahlmeier, who is the overall World Cup leader and has won a medal in 11 straight world championship races, is a huge accomplishment for Dunklee.
Her silver medal performance also made Dunklee the first woman to clinch a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team that will compete in the winter games in South Korea next year. It will be the second Winter Olympics for the 31-year-old Dunklee, who competed on the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.
Biathlon is the only Winter Olympic sport where the United States has never won a medal. Dunklee, together with Lowell Bailey, who won the men’s 20-kilometer individual competition on Feb. 16 for the first-ever U.S. gold medal at a major biathlon competition, might be the duo that breaks through in 2018.
• After getting more than two feet of snow in less than two weeks, the Brattleboro nordic skiing team could finally have a home meet on their course at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center.
The Colonels were hosts for the Marble Valley League freestyle skiing championship on Feb. 16, and both the boys and girls teams came away winners in the multi-team meet.
Sarah Gallagher won the girls’ race, covering the 5.2-kilometer circuit in 17 minutes, 1 second, while Isaac Freitas-Eagan took the boys’ race in 14:00 to lead their respective teams.
While the snowpack and sunshine were plentiful, the conditions were challenging thanks to a burst of snow the day before that left the course a bit soft and choppy in spots, and a cold wind from the northwest.
Brattleboro defeated Mount Anthony, 14-26, in the girls’ team event. Isabella Thurber was not far behind Gallagher to take second in 17:41, while Liz Morse was fifth in 18:08, and Elery Loggia was sixth in 18:17.
In the boys’ race, Freitas-Eagan showed why he is one of the top skiers in the state. He earned the No. 9 ranking for his age group in the Eastern Cup race series, which qualified him to compete in the Junior Nationals in Lake Placid, N.Y. in March.
Spencer Loggia (fourth in 15:20), Galen Fletcher (seventh in 16:22), and Colin Costa-Walsh (ninth in 16:38) teamed up with Freitas-Eagan to beat MAU 21 to 33. Woodstock was third with 46 points.
There were 56 total varsity skiers from BUHS, Mount Anthony, Burr & Burton, and Woodstock. Rutland was supposed to attend, but couldn’t arrange transportation to the meet.
• Brattleboro did all it could to cool off red-hot Rutland, but the 16-2 Raiders made it 11 wins in a row with a 63-60 victory in a Division I showdown at the BUHS gym on Feb. 17.
Considering that Rutland crushed the Colonels, 76-50, at home on Jan. 27, the Colonels gave the Raiders a much tougher game in the rematch. It took Matt Lorman’s five-point spurt and Kyle Cassarino’s clutch free throws in the fourth quarter for the Raiders to rally to win this game.
Lorman finished with 14 points for the 16-2 Raiders, ranked No. 2 in the division. Cassarino, who did all of his scoring in the second half, also had 14.
Eli Lombardi had 25 points and Tony Martinez 10 for the 12-6 Colonels, who got a key road win on Feb. 14, beating Burr & Burton, 74-49. They are now ranked sixth in the division.
• Windsor continued their roll in Division III with a 67-30 rout of Leland & Gray in Townshend on Feb. 16. It was the Yellow Jackets’ sixth straight win and their ninth win in their last 10 games.
Ben Meagher led the Jacks with 13 points, Duncan Frazier added 12, and Adam Stapleton chipped in 11 as Windsor improved to 10-8 and is now ranked fifth in Division III. Lucas Newton led the 3-13 Rebels with 7 points.
• Twin Valley finished the week just a game ahead of Windsor in the Division III standings. The Wildcats are ranked fourth at 11-6 and picked up a pair of home wins against Green Mountain (61-49 on Feb. 14) and Leland & Gray (48-32 on Feb. 18).
• Bellows Falls has been a streaky team this season. After a four-game losing streak, the Terriers have won four in a row, including three road wins last week at Poultney (45-25 on Feb. 14), Springfield (49-34 on Feb. 17) and Woodstock (62-52 on Feb. 18). BF finished the week at 9-7 and is still in the hunt for a home playoff game in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
• Clutch free-throw shooting by Devin Millerick gave Brattleboro a 54-47 win over Rutland at the BUHS gym on Feb. 18. Millerick went 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the final minutes. She finished with 9 points and 4 steals to help the 7-9 Colonels improve their playoff seeding in Division I.
Gabby Carpenter had a big game too, with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Hailey Derosia (13 points, 7 rebounds) and Rachael Rooney (9 points, 3 steals) also contributed.
The Colonels were coming off of a 57-48 loss two nights earlier at Mount Anthony. Millerick led Brattleboro with 20 points in that game. Shenise Taliaferro added 8 points and 8 rebounds, Megyn Ayotte scored 7 points, and Hailey Derosia finished with 5 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
• Leland & Gray picked up a pair of wins last week. On Feb. 15, they traveled to Twin Valley and left with a 46-19 win. The Rebels forced 26 turnovers as Twin Valley’s offense struggled throughout the game.
Jessie Stockwell and Hannah Buffum led the Rebels with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Sammy Morse was the Wildcats’ top scorer with 9 points.
Two nights later, the Rebels hosted Bellows Falls, and again turned on the defense to pick up a 40-26 win. BF was held to just 7 points in the second half.
Buffum had 13 points and Rachel Borgesen added 11 for the Rebels, who finished the week at 10-4. Hannah Kelly led the 9-6 Terriers with 5 points.
Senior bowling roundup
• After a week off due to bad weather, the winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League resumed last week. Team 6 (20-5) widened its lead over Team 2 (16-9), while Team 10 (14-11) moved into third place. Team 7 (13-12) fell to fourth, followed by Team 1 and Team 4 (both 12-13), Team 9 (11-14), Team 3 (10-15), Team 8 (9-16), and Team 5 (8-17).
Pamela Greenblott had the women’s high handicap game (260) and series (658), while Jerry Dunham had the men’s high handicap game (247) and Tom Johnson had the men’s high handicap series (663). Team 5 had the high team handicap game (871), while Team 1 had the high handicap series (2,449).
Seven bowlers rolled a 500-plus series: Warren Corriveau, Sr. (555), Charles Marchant (531), Marty Adams (500), Wayne Randall (512), Peter Cross (506), Johnson (555), and Dunham (561). Dunham (226) and Corriveau (202) were the only bowlers with 200-plus games.
Rec. Dept. offers youth indoor soccer
• It may be a while before we see grass again, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play some soccer. The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Deparment will offer a five-week youth indoor soccer program beginning March 6 and running through April 6 at the Gibson-Aiken Center on Main Street.
Children will be broken into small coed teams to play pick-up games. Scores will not be kept. Shin guards and sneakers are required. The focus will be on having fun. The cost is $15 for residents, $30 for non-residents and you can register now or the first night of soccer. For more information, call 802-254-5808.
All sessions are from from 5 to 6 p.m. Grades K-2 will play on Mondays, while grades 3-4 will play Tuesdays and grades 5-6 play Wednesdays.
Stratton offers ticket deal to Vt., N.H. residents
• Stratton Mountain Resort is offering a ticket deal for Vermont and New Hampshire residents from Feb. 27 to March 3, with $49 one-day lift tickets for adult skiers and riders and $39 for kids age 17 and under. You’ll need to show a driver’s license or ID from either state at the ticket window to take advantage of the offer.
Stratton, like the rest of the ski resorts in northern New England, got more snow in the last two weeks than they saw all last season. They have 100 percent of their 670 acres of terrain open for skiing and snowboarding, including all of their scenic tree trails. For more details, visit stratton.com.