Tussey Mt. skiers race downhill to get to top
By JOHN SEVERANCE
For the Times
February 26, 1988
Who says a little mountain can't produce great skiers?
The Tussey Mountain racing team placed nine of its skiers on the Pennsylvania State team. Five of those skiers have qualified for the Junior Olympics while the remaining four still have a chance to qualify this weekend in Burke, Vt.
"There is no doubt we had more skiers on the all-Pennsylvania team than any other mountain in Pennsylvania," said Sandy Chivers, racing director for Tussey Mountain. "One advantage we have is that our kids can practice during the week, while most other skiers from-mountains like Elk Mountain can only ski on weekends. “
The five who have already quali- fied for the Junior Olympics include Andrea Bither, Drew Campbell, Todd Bigatel, Chip Kogelmann and Michelle Karas. The four trying to qualify this weekend include Brennan Glantz, Dain Olson, Dave Guss and Jan Dutton.
This-is where it gets confusing. There are four categories in qualifying for the Junior Olympics. Junior I's are the and 17 year olds, Junior II's are 14 and 15 year olds, Junior Ill's are 12 and13 year olds and Junior IV's are 10 and 11 year olds.
Bither, a 14-year-old from State College will be racing in the Junior Ill Olympics March 11-13 in Pico, Vt.
Bither crushed her competition at the Pennsylvania Derby winning all four of her races. Bither's parents, Nancy and Stewart, were instrumental in starting the program five years ago, but it really didn't get going until last year. And now 70 kids are in the program.
Bither started racing when she was 9 and in order to get the competition she needed. She raced some of the boys her age and older.
"She beat all the girls by seven seconds and all the boys by five seconds," Chivers said.
Campbell is a 15-year old who lives in Centre Hail and his parents were instrumental in getting him started in the world of ski racing.
He will be traveling to Whiteface Mountain for the Junior II Olympics in take Placid.
"My goal this year is to make the top 20 (out Of about 80 skiers)" Campbell said. "'Last year, I finished 33rd at Mount Snow (in Vermont)."
Bigatel and Kogelmann will be competing in the Junior I Olympics in Killington. Bigatel, 16, from State College, has been skiing all his life.
This year Bigatel is aiming for the top 30 and his favorite skier is the United States' Felix McGrath.
"I had a disappointing season until this last race," Bigatel said. "I finally went out and did my best and hope to do that at Killington.”
Kogelmann, 16, is from Boalsburg and he started skiing at age 6. His idol is the immortal Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark and last weekend, Kogelmann won four of six races.
Like most good skiers, Kogelmann thought he could improve on his performance.
"I skied solid, but I didn't go for it," Kogelmann said. 'I was just worrying about making the Pennsylvania State and Junior Olympic team. "
Karas is a Junior II skier, who will also be skiing at Lake Placid.
Karas won all four runs at the Pennsylvania Derby. "It was the best race of my life," the 15-year old from Boalsburg said.
And what does she expect at Lake Placid? “I want to do the best I can and come close to the times I posted in practice," Karas said.
Glantz, Olson, Guss and Dutton all have a formidable challenge this weekend as they will face the best of the Northeast in the qualifying meet. Last week, they were going against the best from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.
"It's like night and day (comparing New England skiing and Pennsylvania skiing)," said Chivers, who has been coaching the Tussey. Mountain skiers since last year.
Chivers is hoping younger kids will join the program.
"We need to feed younger kids into the program," Chivers said. "I'd love to see younger kids compete and it's the perfect thing for kids who want more than just coming out and skiing. They will get great racing experience."
Chivers, who is originally from Hanover, N.H., has six assistants. Four go to school at Penn State and the other two attend Lock Haven.