Skiier set to compete in Junior Olympics

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

She started skiing at age 2, long before she really knew how to do much else.

Now 11, Kathryn Bowen of Tucumcari stayed with the sport because, “it’s fast.” Bowen was fast enough last month to earn a spot in next week’s United States Ski Association Junior Olympics.

Kathryn, a fifth-grader at Tucumcari Elementary school, is one of two New Mexico girls making the trip to Winter Park, Colo., Wednesday through next Saturday. She will be competing in slalom, giant slalom and Super G. She is competing in the 11-12 age group.

The event will feature skiiers from 18 states, who qualified through various preliminary meets. Kathryn and 38 others qualified during a February meet in Crested Butte, Colo. Against skiiers from New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, she competed in two races in each of the three events.

The finishes from the competitors’ best two races are graded on a point scale of one point for first place, two points for second place, etc. Kathryn finished 26th and 28th out of 100 in her top two races.

Of the three events, Kathryn said she likes slaloms the best.

“I used to hate them, but now they’re my favorite and I don’t know why,” she said with a laugh.

Her mother, Sandy Bowen, said it might be because of her size. At just under 4 feet and 69 pounds, Bowen said her daughter is at a disadvantage against heavier skiiers who can build more speed. The slalom is a shorter race and more dependent on technique.

Kathryn said her favorite skiier is Kristina Koznick, who first made the U.S. Ski Team at 15 and is still the youngest American woman ever to race in an Alpine World Cup event. Kathryn said she got to meet Koznick before, and the personal connection makes Koznick her favorite racer.

Sandy Bowen said Kathryn tries to practice every weekend, and often has a chance to work with the University of New Mexico, the defending college ski team champion.

“We got to work with them every so often,” Sandy Bowen said. “We’re really lucky.”

Kathryn is a member of the Red River Ski team and will compete with her team in Taos at the Southern Series Finals races in Taos when she is through with the Junior Olympics.