Eagle Co. Nordic skiers personal marks
Vail, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado ” At the end of Thursday’s high school Nordic meet in Breckenridge, kids and coaches reveled in one of the great joys of Nordic skiing.
As much as every meet is a true team competition, it’s also a chance for kids to race against themselves.
In the opening skate race of the year at the Gold Run Nordic center, athletes from all four schools in Eagle County made personal breakthroughs.
Vail Christian saw its only two female racers in the top seven, with Jessica Linder in second and Lettie Fickling in seventh.
“My best placing before that was 19th,” Fickling said. “In general, I’ve been doing better this year, and cross country training in the fall helps so much.”
With plenty of rest over winter break, Fickling, who ran cross country for Battle Mountain with Linder, came in poised for a solid result.
“I think I was really hammering it,” Fickling said. “My uphill technique is generally my worst, but I was trying hard and I think it paid off.”
Vail Mountain, with several of its top skiers taking it easy after competing last weekend at Senior Nationals, didn’t have much of a dropoff on the boys side. With stellar individual efforts, Sean Woods and Rob Fitz took fourth and fifth, respectively, to help the team place second.
One of the goals for our team, since Tony (Ryerson) and Chris (Woods) were taking it easy, Sean and I had to step up to the plate and get into the top five,” Fitz said. “I felt pretty good and Sean had a great race.”
Fitz overcame an early errant turn that put him behind the pack and battled back to pick off a Summit racer near the finish. Ryerson was 15th, while Chris Woods was 19th.
“This raised my hopes for (Rocky Mountain Division) racing,” Fitz said. “I’ve been having a couple bad races, and I beat a lot of people who beat me before, so it makes me think I can do well in RMD races and high school.”
Battle Mountain’s Conor Wallace, who typically brings in his best results at classical races, finished 10th.
The Eagle Valley boys took seventh, but packed five racers in the top 32.
“We had a bunch of real good individual performances ” more than I expected,” said Eagle Valley coach Glen Ewing.
Sage Smith led the way in 17th, followed by Ethan Smith in 22nd. James McGoodwin was 25th, with Nick Brink in 30th and Casey Kerrigan 32nd.
“James had a good race,” Ewing said. “And Kacey doesn’t have great technique, but his tempo is really high. He’s a great little athlete.”
The Vail Christian boys, who are enjoying their first year as a team, pulled in some good results. Ian Hamina, in his second Nordic race, took 31st and qualified for state, while Ryan Vlaar was close behind in 37th, and Eric Gallagher was 50th.
“It goes to show they’re working to go faster,” said Dan Weiland, who coaches Vail Christian and Vail Mountain. “I can see all three qualifying for state.”
Other boys finishers include Battle Mountain skiers Charles Gladtisch (45th), Harrison Huntoon (50th), Remsen Allard (60th) and Eric Spry (67th). Eagle Valley saw James Jagger take 66th.
On the girls end, Vail Mountain found some spark from its younger skiers, with Lauren Zdechlik in 15th and Amelia Ortiz in 34th. Kaitlin Zdechlik (28th) and Karlie Moore (35th) were also just returning from nationals.
“Winning team titles isn’t a concern of ours,” Weiland said. “For now, it’s qualifying for junior Olympics and doing well at the state championships.”
Vail Mountain, along with the Vail Christian girls and other assorted skiers compete in club races, while many of the Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley skiers focus on the high school schedule.
“I’m always pretty happy with my team,” Ewing said. “Never have I felt I haven’t got 100 percent effort from my kids and that’s really all I can expect out of them.”
Ewing was pleased with his girls Thursday.
“We had a couple good things happen ” Ali (Gulick) had a good race, and ended up 22nd. Ann Carlin, a freshman, had the race of her career and Caitlin Yarger had a technically good day.”
Carlin was 42nd, while Yarger was 46th, one spot behind teammate Molly Walker.
“I felt really strong,” Yarger said. “It took me four years to get it, but at least I got (the technique). Now all I have to work on is my power.”
Battle Mountain’s Jamie Roberts led her team in 26th, with Erin Baker in 36th and Anouk Guilmineau cracking the top 50 in 48th. Other Huskies to finish were Gina Lovell (62nd), Sarah Blundell (63rd), Valeria Rivero (72nd) Callie Gustafson (74th), Emma Quimette (76th) and Laura Leonard (77th). Rounding things out for Eagle Valley were Raina Gulick (53rd), Toni Hoehn (56th), Jessica Klein (64th) and Joslyn Funez (75th).
The next high school Nordic race will be a classical on Jan. 26 in Leadville.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.