The Purgatory Alpine Ski Team raced into the new year with the first USSA (United States Ski/Snowboard Association) races of 2009, held Jan. 3-4 in Taos.
Twenty skiers from Purgatory competed along with 75 other racers from Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona in the opener of the Southern Series.
Skiers raced in their respective age categories: J2 - ages 15-16; J3 - ages 13-14; J4 - ages 11-12; J5 - ages 9-10; J6 - ages 7-8.
The newest member of the Purgatory Alpine Team took the Southern Series opener by storm. Alex Milton finished first among J2 skiers and was second overall in Saturday's combined two races. Milton is a former Junior Olympian who moved to Durango from St. Louis.
Purgatory teammates Curtis Eggleston and Tom Olson finished fifth and sixth, respectively, among the J3 skiers. They were seventh and eighth overall.
Beau Biernacki was 12th among J3's and 14th overall, and first-year racer Brian Cheavens was third among J2's and 19th overall.
Scott Schwab of Purgatory was in fifth place after the morning run but did not finish after a crash Saturday afternoon.
Farmington's Jobe Sarvash did not start because of an ankle injury, while teammate Nicholas Deininger was disqualified after a crash in the first race.
For the ability class girls, Liz Schell finished first among J2 girls (fourth overall), followed by teammate Sonja Fleming, who was fourth among J3 girls and 5th overall.
Kaitlyn Biernacki was 11th overall for the Purgatory team, with Stephanie Bowles ninth among J3 girls and 12th overall.
In J4 girls, Katarina Siebert had two strong finishes - a sixth and a fifth.
J5 Bryce Ward took bronze in the morning race, and finished the day with a sixth in the afternoon.
Teammate Katie Milliet was fifth in the morning, second in the afternoon.
J4 skier Liam Weiss of the Purgatory Ski Team was a gold medalist in the morning racing. He won silver in the afternoon.
Jesse Rubenstein finished 11th and seventh in the two Saturday races.
J5 Clay Eggleston, after finishing sixth in the morning, won the afternoon race.
J6 Jack Eggleston raced to two first-place finishes in his age group. Teammate Gunner Schwab won a J6 silver in the morning race.
Sunday's two races were canceled by harsh weather.
"The entire team skied well, especially for the season's first race," head coach Leah Lesage said.
"We have only trained in gates for a few days, so the top finishes are a good sign for things to come the rest of the year."
The team was coached in Taos by Josh Kane and Erik and Megan Leirfallom.
The Purgatory Ski Team and Durango Mountain Resort will host the annual Jesse Scott Memorial Super-G races Jan. 23-25.