Coyote Cafe starts strong in Beaver Creek series |

Coyote Cafe starts strong in Beaver Creek series

BEAVER CREEK – Fredrik Gustaffson might have best captured the quintessence of Monday’s opening race in the Beaver Creek Resort Company Race Series.”It felt weird,” the Coyote Cafe team member said.Gustaffson then went on to say that the weird part was putting on GS skis for the first time this season. He could have been talking about the kickoff to the series as whole, however, considering Monday’s weather conditions.Wet, heavy snow – which started as rain – mixed with a soupy fog to make it near impossible to see more than 15-20 feet ahead at times in the morning run. The precipitation teetered off in the afternoon for the second run.Monday’s race was weird for other reasons, too.”It was a little nerve-wracking,” women’s winner Kathryn Keane said. “I’d only ran the Nastar like twice this season so that was a little weird for me. It was a good course and an easy first race, though. There was just one turn at the bottom that was a hilly, big turn but other than that it was pretty easy.”Keane, who finished in 29.52 seconds, held a podium party with Coyote Cafe teammates Steffi Horn and Sarah Edwards. Horn came in second with a time of 30.88 while Edwards’ two-run combined time of 32.21 was good for third. Horn, who was a junior national team member in Germany, hadn’t skied gates in six years.”I work in the race department and they put me on the team,” she said. “I hang out in the Coyote. (Today is) a great success.”Things seemed rather normal in the men’s race as Snowell’s Eric Archer (26.50) and Christian Questad (26.83) grabbed the two top spots and teammate Jon Meckem (27.17) finished fourth overall.Gustaffson’s third-place finish in 27.08 did shake things up a bit, however, as did teammate Ron Rupert’s win in the men’s snowboard competition.With 2004 runner-up Viele Construction bowing out of this year’s series to focus on dethroning Snowell in the Vail Town Race Series, it appears that the Coyote Cafe squad is prepared to be this year’s lead challenger to the Beaver Creek series’ perennial powerhouse.Snowell holds a slim one point lead in the overall with 27.5 points while Coyote Cafe has 26.5, Grimaldi Real Estate has 25, and Marko’s Pizzeria and BC Race 2 are tied at 24.Gustaffson didn’t see his podium finish Monday as a fluke.”Next time (Snowell) can have a party from second to fourth,” he said. Added Keane, “We hope we can bring in an extra ringer and beat that Snowell Team. That’s our goal. Basically we want as many good teams as we can get, because then it makes it more fun and hopefully one of these teams will knock that Snowell Team out so we can show them where they belong.”Meckem said he was impressed by Coyote Cafe’s showing after Monday’s race, but still said he doesn’t think anyone will be able to take down the defending champs for yet another year.”The competition gets better every year,” he said. “I mean every year we have to come up with new tactics and think about what we’re doing. This year we had to pick team members a little bit more carefully. We’re still serious. We still want to win.”The Beaver Creek Resort Race Series continues next Monday.Staff Writer Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at Colorado

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