And the winner is? |

And the winner is?

PrestonUtley/Vail DailyBattle Mountain's Grant Stevenson was named ski miester for wining skier of the year in nordic and alpine skiing.

Welcome to the Oscars at Battle Mountain.Today’s biggest prizes in Huskies Sports Nation are the Senior Athlete Awards to be handed out at graduation this afternoon.On the boys’ side, your guess is as good as mine. We have two exemplary candidates, equally worthy of the prize – Austin Chow and Grant Stevenson. These two are two fine vintages of Bordeaux wine and we really shouldn’t have to chose between the two.I’m biased, but I’m not. I’ve covered both for seemingly ages. I’ve seen Chow at Dobson since he was a Squirt in hockey all the way his finale at the World Arena against Air Academy as a high school player this winter.

Grant? Well, there hasn’t been a year while I’ve been at the Vail Daily that I haven’t covered a Stevenson, be it James or Grant. I’ve covered both in their highs and lows. For Austin, the high had to be this year’s semifinal against Cheyenne Mountain when he torpedoed the Indians with four goals in a 5-1 win. Twenty-four hours later came the low – heartbreak again in Colorado Springs with a state title loss.Grant finally achieved the Stevensons’ quest for a Skimeister, the award for best all-around high school skier in the state of Colorado. Where older brother, James, had come up excruciatingly close to the crown, Grant finally succeeded after being the runner-up, like James, the year before.Both families have shared in the joys and sorrows of their children. Mark and Lee Stevenson probably won’t know what to do with themselves next winter. Something in their biological clock will tell them that there’s an alpine race Friday and a Nordic contest Saturday to which they have to go. James actually flew back from Valparaiso for the state meet this year.

When Grant came in for his interview at the Daily after winning Skimeister, Mark and Lee were positively bubbly in their own modest way.Frank and Beth Chow are fixtures on the hockey scene. Frank is always clicking photos at home and away games. (By the way, thanks to both Frank and Mark for their photos over the years.). Beth is in the scorer’s booth at Dobson. While I am honor-bound never to speak of what is said there, let’s just say that Beth is living and dying with each touch of the puck by Austin or Barrett Chow.That having been said, how do you pick a winner?In Austin’s column, you have a state golf appearance and that hockey thing. From his freshman year, when he supposedly didn’t belong, to his senior year, when he was simply a man among boys, No. 11 has been the constant in the tumultuous world of Huskies hockey.

This winter was absolutely ridiculous. He had 43 goals and 29 assists in 23 games. That’s insane. (By the way, to jerks in the hockey circles who blame Chow for the loss in the finals for not passing, shut your yaps. A-Train averaged more than assist a game during his high school career.) In addition to the Cheyenne game, Chow had his magical hat trick to come back against Steamboat. Have you ever heard of a buzzer-beater in hockey?Stevenson has gone the individual route in his career – and it’s been glorious. He led the boys cross country team to state for the first time in school history. He holds the 5K school mark. In skiing, he got that Skimeister at last. As he said, “You’ve got to be a little crazy to do this.” He’s right. It takes amazing dedication to go to both alpine and Nordic practices and then race twice a week. You have to be in phenomenal shape both physically and mentally to do this.Come spring, he’s anchored the 3,200-meter relay team with Shea Phelan, Zach Erickson and Travis Landauer. The team has obliterated the school mark by 22 seconds. He almost also knocked off Chris Isbell in the mile.

If I had a vote, it goes to Stevenson by a hair because he’s a three-sporter. My bet, though, is that Chow gets it. No slight in any way to Chow, but more Battle Mountain coaches go to hockey games than ski meets. Personally, I say cut the darn thing down the middle.On the girls’ side, the good news is that we don’t have such a tight race because Battle Mountain has so many talented juniors, sophomores and freshmen. This is a three way race between Alexis Guinn, Meagan Reigel and Rolena Richardson.I give it to Guinn. She was a guard on the basketball team, which made great strides this year, even making the state playoffs. Then came soccer. While she and Killion Hunn shared the net for the regular season, Guinn was the go-to goalie come playoff time and she performed spectacularly.Congratulations to all, be you Huskies, Devils, Saints or Gore Rangers. Happy graduation.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or, Colorado

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