Twice is nice for Vail Mountain School skiing | VailDaily.com

Twice is nice for Vail Mountain School skiing

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Vail Mountain School Gore Rangers are the kings and queens of skiing.

The gents absolutely dominated the field, winning the giant slalom, the slalom and the classic Nordic races, while finishing second in the freestyle during the two-day meet up in Steamboat Springs. The Gore Rangers racked up 671 points, a stunning 96 points better than second-place Battle Mountain.

It was a photo finish for the Gore Rangers ladies, who needed a dominating performance in Friday's classic Nordic race, to squeak by Battle Mountain. VMS won with 610 points, with Battle Mountain at 606 and Aspen at 604.

That is the VMS boys' first state title in skiing since 1991. (Our trivia for the day is that some kid named Mike Johnston was on that squad. We wonder what he's doing these days.)

The VMS girls have never won state skiing, but the school has had a very good soccer team recently. These are the fourth and fifth state titles in school history (1991 boys skiing, 2015 girls soccer and 2016 girls soccer).

Nordic dominance

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The reason the Vail Mountain School girls were on top of the podium after Friday night's endless CHSAA ceremony is simple. The Gore Rangers destroyed the field in Nordic.

VMS' girls won Thursday's freestyle with 170 points and bettered their effort with 174 in Friday's classic. A four-point improvement in the classic was the margin of overall victory.

The Gore Rangers' 170 points in the skate on Thursday was 27 points better than Battle Mountain (143) and a whopping 45 higher than Aspen (125). Friday's classic was more of a smack down with Gore Rangers at 174; Aspen at 134 and Battle Mountain at 132.

For the statistically inclined, 56 percent of VMS' overall total came from Nordic, compared to 45 percent for Battle Mountain and 42 percent for Aspen.

Donovan delight

The Donovan sisters maybe can form their own Nordic team. They are that good. Maddie Donovan is a state champion after winning Thursday's skate in 16 minutes, 44.12 seconds. Bridget Donovan was third in 17:12.08. The Gore Rangers made it three in the top 10 with Emma Blakslee in ninth (18:22.96).

Blakslee's last name is not Donovan for some reason, but VMS will keep her, nonetheless.

The Donovans made it a sweep of the Nordic state championships as Bridget won Friday's classic in 17:34.35, or around six seconds ahead of Maddie, who was second. VMS' Lyle Shipp took sixth and Blakslee ninth.

While the VMS Nordic team rightly grabbed the attention at state, everyone in East Vail should also thank alpinist Whitney Merriman. A stalwart all season, Merriman picked up vital points on the hill, taking fourth in the giant slalom on Thursday and sixth in Friday's slalom.

General dominance

The question for the VMS boys entering state was "Could the Gore Rangers alpinists stay upright and record two runs?" Mishaps in GS and slalom can derail prohibitive favorites at the state meet.

Just one example was last year when Aspen was the team to beat until one of its three skiers DNF'd during the Day-2 slalom, which ended up handing the title to the Battle Mountain boys.

Though not without some drama, VMS alpine team not only got its respective two runs down, they dominated. In giant slalom, Michael Resnick was second; Peer Carnes fourth and Shane Cole sixth.

It's worth noting that Cole was skiing with 13 stiches in one of his legs, acquired in a fall last weekend while skiing and then there was Carnes' drama.

From the results, it appears that VMS had a nice average day in slalom with Resnick third; Cole fifth and Carnes sixth. When a team gets 169 points in any of the four state events, that's a fantastic day.

Carnes was second after the first run, but missed a gate during the second run. He had to hike and was still sixth. VMS had a fourth skier in Theo Marston, who finished 26th, and the Gore Rangers would still have won state had Carnes been a DNF. But Carnes kept his focus, redid the gate, and finished.

The finale

The reason the heat was on VMS boys alpine just to finish was that Gore Rangers Nordic was money in the bank. Cameron Wolfe rolled to bronze in Thursday's skate, with Peter Littman in fifth and Ian Hardenbergh taking 17th.

That was the "bad" day for the Gore Rangers. VMS — gasp — did not win the skate race; the Colorado Rocky Mountain School defeated VMS, 165-160.

The Vail Mountain School erased whatever doubt there was about a state title with domination in the classic. Wolfe was second, joined on the podium by Littman in third, while Hardenbergh was seventh.

As Edward R. Murrow would say, "Good night and good luck."

More state champs

• Battle Mountain's Trinity Chelain is your 2017 Colorado state slalom champion. The sophomore blitzed the field with her first run with a time of 48.50 seconds, and beat Aspen's Margo McHugh by 0.98 seconds.

• Battle Mountain's Franklin Reilly is the 2017 Colorado state classic champion. He sped his way to a time of 14:53.12 for gold. Reilly also won silver in Thursday's skate. The senior capped a brilliant career on snow that also includes two team titles with the Huskies in 2015 and 2016.

• To nobody's surprise, Battle Mountain Haley Frischholz is the girls' Skimeister for the second year in a row. That appellation is given to the state's best all-around skier in both alpine and Nordic. Frischholz took third in both GS and slalom this week up in Steamboat.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.

State Skiing results

Boys

GS FR SL CL TOT

Vail Mountain 171 160 169 171 671

Battle Mountain 122 158 137 160 577

Aspen 155 125 152 135 567

Summit County 115 165 118 162 560

Steam. Springs 139 118 158 125 540

Middle Park 118 157 96 157 528

Evergreen 167 94 157 99 517

Nederland 121 95 116 103 435

Colorado Rocky 42 143 38 137 360

Eagle Valley 94 102 66 89 351

Clear Creek 80 81 93 75 329

Lake County 57 119 27 112 315

Platte Canyon 129 0 134 0 263

Durango 67 0 69 0 136

Ridge View 0 37 0 29 66

Girls

GS FR SL CL TOT

Vail Mountain 130 170 136 174 610

Battle Mountain 162 143 169 132 606

Aspen 175 125 170 134 604

Colorado Rocky 112 156 74 165 507

Summit County 108 142 112 138 500

Middle Park 115 135 110 123 483

Lake County 96 146 82 145 469

Evergreen 137 98 123 104 462

Eagle Valley 121 128 81 125 455

Nederland 138 41 131 103 413

Steamboat Springs 50 111 137 81 379

Clear Creek 73 81 81 81 319

Durango 109 0 128 0 237

Platte Canyon 94 0 65 0 159

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