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Eagle Valley Nordic ski team reloads after winning boys state title in 2022

Growing Devils program main focus remains developing skiers for life

Ferguson St. John won both the classic and skate state titles in 2022. He and Lukas Bergsten (right) both graduated from an Eagle Valley boys team that won the Nordic team state title.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

After graduating all of its point scorers on the boys side — including Ferguson St. John, who swept the classical and skate state titles last February — and its top girls skier, one would predict a hint of nerves in the Eagle Valley wax truck. That’s not the vibe, though. For Paul Steiner’s crew, embracing the Nordic lifestyle is what those over-distance workouts in three-degree weather is really all about. Success comes courtesy of culture.

“Our goals are simple — embrace the Nordic lifestyle, push our boundaries as skiers in both disciplines and bring others with us,” he said in advance of the 2022-23 season.

Steiner’s “two-fold, individual and team-oriented” approach certainly reaped more than just tangible podium blessings. There was St. John’s dominance and the boys Nordic team score title of course, but even after the state meet, St. John and fellow Devil, Lukas Bergsten, skied 200 kilometers in a 24-hour event in Leadville. If there ever was proof of true love for a sport, that would probably be it.



Even with some of his program pillars gone, Steiner is optimistic.

“We’re looking forward to our up-and-coming women’s and men’s crew,” he said, noting top-20 state finishes by returners Ethan Barber and Ava Bergsten.

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“We’re looking to build on that with them as well as keep our team vibe going strong,” he said. “Our goal is to open the door for the up-and-coming Nordic nerds on the team as well. Set the lifestyle and then the racing will happen.”

Brynn Moody (34th at state skate, 35th in classic), Addison Marsh (45th skate), Emma Bergsten (47th classic) and Justine St. John (44th classic, 52nd skate) were other non-seniors who competed at the state meet. Jake Drever (12th classic, 7th skate) was consistently the Devils’ third skier last year as a junior. Brody Nielsen placed 12th in skate and 17th in classic last year as well.

While Gypsum’s drier weather and historical athletic interests make forging a skinny ski-centric culture harder than say Lake County — Karl Remsen has dialed in the formulas for annually churning out competent, competitive skiers — the Eagle Valley program is gaining steam largely because the coach centers his focus on keeping a smile on kids’ faces as they learn life lessons and develop mental toughness. Over Thanksgiving, Steiner’s crew logged a few big days in Grand Mesa and Leadville — seeking out remote mining roads for suitable conditions.



The Eagle Valley Nordic ski team refuels during a long day of training at Grand Mesa last weekend.
Paul Steiner/Courtesy photo

“Come on snow!” Steiner wrote in an email. “Cold temps and snow are what we need.”

The coach is hoping for the same conditions on race days, a wish reflecting his perception of the incoming team.

“Young, savvy and gritty,” he stated of the team’s theme approaching 2022-23. “We got nothing to lose and everything to gain.” Steiner explained that a new scoring system this year is likely to favor the strong and talented groups. Even down valley, the Devils are thankful to be close to numerous competitive programs.

“We’re thankful to have tough teams so close,” he said. “To be the best you have to ski against the best.”

“There are a bunch of tough Nordic skiers all over the state,” Steiner continued. “In the county, Jeff (Battle Mountain) and Shawn (VMS) field rock-solid teams year after year. A pretty sure bet is that Karl’s crew over in Leadville has the ability to straight crush and beat skiers into the frozen ground below.”

Battle Mountain’s girls won the overall (Alpine and Nordic) state team title last year and return several of their top skiers, while Lake County went 1-2 in the state skate individually and return the top boys candidate, Jace Peters. All of the on-paper predictions are meaningless, though, in light of the Eagle Valley Nordic way. No matter what, the Devils will keep kicking and gliding.

“Improve and hone our technique, surpass yesterday and value today,” the no-nonsense Steiner said in describing his coaching philosophy.

“Genuine courage, mental fortitude and enthusiastic training. Trust in the plan, trust in self.”

2021-22 Colorado High School Ski League season team results

Girls

(Rank, School, Summit Invite, Maloit Park Invite, Leadville Relay, Steamboat Invite, Total)

  1. Battle Mountain          159 144 145 350 157 955
  2. Poudre                            139 155 126 295 144 859
  3. Steamboat                      158 116 134 305 125 838
  4. Eagle Valley                   148 114 109 280 134 785
  5. Lake County                   130 162 174 150 166 782
  6. Middle Park                  139 160 145 175 162 781
  7. Nederland                     131 108 111 145 111 606
  8. Summit                         94 160 167 0 132 553
  9. Colorado Rocky Mt.    96 120 119 120 58 513
  10. Aspen                             98 121 131 0 137 487
  11. Clear Creek                   59 78 76 110 87 410
  12. Vail Mountain School 67 60 61 130 34 352
  13. Evergreen                      61 56 56 115 32 320

Boys

(Rank, School, Summit Invite, Maloit Park Invite, Leadville Relay, Steamboat Invite, Total)

  1. Eagle Valley                                         171 162 159 310 159 961 (state as tiebreaker)
  2. Battle Mountain                                 168 155 146 335 157 961
  3. Poudre                                                 145 130 127 320 142 864
  4. Middle Park                                        117 158 154 165 162 756
  5. Vail Mountain School                       150 143 155 155 84 687
  6. Lake County                                        106 127 125 140 135 633
  7. Summit                                                 145 161 165 0 153 624
  8. Steamboat                                           121 108 113 145 118 605
  9. Nederland                                            103 111 97 125 106 542
  10. Colorado Rocky Mountain               113 97 105 120 39 474
  11. Evergreen                                            109 69 73 135 77 463
  12. Clear Creek                                          80 83 60 115 62 400
  13. Aspen                                                    26 26 27 0 30 109

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