Corey Browning seems to have a special knack to find his way through openings, whether he’s holding ski poles, slicing through tight gates on a slalom course or holding a football picking his way through holes opened by offensive linemen.
Call it a nose for the finish line, because in just two years the Nevada Union sophomore has already captured four California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski & Snowboard Federation titles, including a gold medal in the slalom at the CNISSF Championships Thursday at Mammoth Mountain. Unfortunately for Browning, his bid to defend the giant slalom and combined championships he won as a freshman in 2005 took a spill on Wednesday when he lost a ski and was unable to finish the run.
“In the G.S., I couldn’t really do anything. I put a little amount of pressure on my ski and it popped off,” Browning said, adding that he lost his ski on the seventh gate on the course.
The DNF eliminated his chances of scoring a clean sweep of the boys individual honors for the second year in a row, yet Browning was determined not to let the mishap interfere with his focus Thursday.
“I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t finish; I just knew I had to go out the next day and try harder,” he said.
And on a day when blizzard-like conditions forced race officials to reduce the slalom from two runs to just one, Browning was good for the gold. He posted a time of 30.47 seconds that was three-tenths faster than Evan Porges from Rim of the World.
On the girls side, Nevada Union’s Allison Chapple placed 11th in the slalom with a time of 43.03, while Bear River’s Haley Ells finished eight-tenths back in 14th. Coupled with her 13th-place performance in the giant slalom, Chapple wound up 10th in the combined girls standings ” and a berth on the CNISSF All-State Ski Team.
“Allison did great. She was flying,” Browning said of Chapple.
While Browning is happy with his gold medal, at the same, he is satisfied with a decision he made not to pursue the sport to a higher level. After qualifying for the Junior Olympics the previous two years, he said he was extended an offer to live at Lake Tahoe and train full-time with a Far West Ski Association program.
“I’d have been gone for long periods of time competing at races all over the country, but I didn’t want to move and be away from my friends,” he said.
For the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Browning, it would have cut out another nose he has ” that for the end zone. After all, he is coming off a football season in which he rushed for 940 yards as a running back for Nevada Union’s junior varsity. He also moved up and saw action at running back and defensive end during the varsity squad’s run to the Sac-Joaquin Section championship.
“Coach (Dave) Humphers showed me what playing varsity football is all about,” Browning said. “I’m ready for it (next season); our entire J.V. team is ready to show what we can do. I think we’re going to have another great season.”
In the meantime, he will run track and spend time in the weight room preparing for this next football season. Interestingly enough, there are some parallels between being a running back and a slalom racer.
“The gates get really tight,” Browning said. “You’re on the edge and it’s almost like you’re jumping toward the next gate. Your feet are always moving.”
Just like a good running back. And like the good skier he is, Browning knows how difficult a challenge it will be to continue his championship run against CNISSF competition.
“It’ll be tough. There’s definitely some good high school skiers,” he said. “I’d really rather not even think about it (winning repeat titles). That’s hard when you’re in the starting gate and thinking, ‘Am I going to win it the second year?'”
But don’t ask Browning to make a decision between his two favorite sports.
“I really like football,” he said. “But I’ve been skiing since I was 2 … and I love going out and free skiing.”
To contact Dave Price, e-mail him via email@example.com or call 477-4240.
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