Aspen leads state skiing with Alpine on deck
And a new Skimeister competition is unveiled
Welcome to Day 5 of the state-skiing meet, a meet being held in Steamboat Springs and Loveland.
Consider it an appropriately wacky format for wacky season. Say goodbye to the traditional two-races-per-day, two-day state meet on a Thursday and Friday and say hello to Nordic races that have already been completed on Saturday, a new state Skimeister competition and condensed Alpine races Thursday (boys giant slalom and slalom) followed by the ladies on Friday at Loveland.
By the way, while CHSAA has issued a contingency plan for the state-wrestling tournament in Pueblo because of the storm bearing down on the Front Range this weekend, the organization has no such contingencies for skiing, so Alpine will ski through whatever weather is at the top of the Continental Divide.
The only certain thing in uncertain times seems to be Aspen. The Skiers cleaned up on the Nordic side on Saturday up in Steamboat and hold the advantage going into the Alpine competitions Thursday and Friday.
The Aspen boys and girls swept the classic and the skate. The Skiers boys lead Eagle Valley, which had a tremendous showing up north, 338-301. Vail Mountain is tied for third (Middle Park) with 291 and Battle Mountain sits sixth with 279.
For the girls, Aspen leads with 333 points. VMS is fifth (261), Battle Mountain eighth (249) and Eagle Valley 10th (214).
Traditionally, the Skimeister, the award given to the state’s best all-around skier in Alpine and Nordic, is contested during the entire regular season. Because of COVID-19, teams only raced against regional opponents during the regular season, so there was no formal Skimeister chase.
Instead, they did it all in one day on and around Howelsen Hill up in Steamboat on Tuesday. About 50 athletes did the following in one day:
- A 3K classic
- Two giant-slalom runs
- Two slalom runs
- A 3K skate
That’s a busy day that started with an opening ceremony and impromptu national anthem performance by VMS senior Quinn Kelley. (Just competing for Skimeister shows one’s versatility, and singing should count for extra points in the competition.)
“They were pretty beat at the end of the day,” VMS coach Shawn Ellenbaum said. “But it was well worth it. You could see the camaraderie getting going. It was a good scene.”
Steamboat’s Zoe Bennett Manke and Aspen’s Christian Kelly are the Skimeisters for 2021. Battle Mountain’s Seamus Farrell was the runner up on the boys’ side with VMS’ Will Brunner in fourth.
As for VMS’ Kelley, she finished fourth, the top local result among the girls.
Give it up for Eagle Valley boys Nordic. This has to be the Devils’ best showing as a team at the state meet. Eagle Valley’s Ferguson St. John smashed 15 minutes in classic with a time of 14 minutes, 49 seconds, to finish second, two spots ahead of friendly rival Sullivan Middaugh, of Battle Mountain (15:06).
Vail Mountain’s Cole Flashner broke into the top 10 in seventh (15:19). Eagle Valley’s Lukas Bergsten (15:50) and Aidan Duffy (15:53) ended up in 14th and 15th, respectively, to stake the Devils to second place.
Since the athletes had two races in one day, the classic side was a 3K sprint. St. John led the Devils again in second with Cole Weathers in 14th and Bergsten in 27th. VMS also had a strong showing with Flashner sixth, Brunner 12th and Mason Cruz-Abrams 13th.
For the girls, Vail Mountain’s Izzy Glackin (third), Eagle Valley’s Samantha Blair (14th) and Battle Mountain’s Molly Reeder (15th) were the stars in the classic.
VMS’ Elliot Pribramsky lit it up in the skate, finishing fifth.
OK, Aspen is leading both title chases with good-sized margins after Nordic and the Skiers are traditionally sound as a pound in Alpine, so there’s really no point of holding the GS and the slalom, right?
Tread carefully, people.
The Alpine always provides drama at state. Athletes pop their skis in the start house. Skiers miss gates and DNF. Weather moves in. Watch this, folks. Yes, the incoming storm is meant to hit the Front Range, but it will catch Loveland in all likelihood. Does the weather roll in, particularly on Friday when the girls race?
All it takes is a few top-seeded racers to DNF in either GS or slalom to throw the entire competition into delightful chaos.