Ewing wins Nordic race at Eldora
Eagle Valley’s Jill Ewing made it a hat trick for local high school Nordic skiers in the winner’s circle this season, by taking gold in last weekend’s classic state-qualifier in Eldora.She joins the Vail Mountain School’s Sylvan Ellefson and Haleigh Armstrong with first-place finishes.”When we saw her coming out halfway in first we were hoping she could hold on. There were a lot of girls behind her like (Summit’s) Brittany Perkins who has won some races, a lot of strong girls,” Eagle Valley coach Glen Ewing said. “Jill was absolutely focused on doing nothing but going fast. It was a good race for her.”Jill Ewing did, indeed, hold on with a time of 11 minutes, 58.7 seconds, 1.6 seconds ahead of Perkins.Last weekend’s race was a duathlon – half freestyle, half classic – in which racers could qualify in either or both disciplines and the Devils – along with Battle Mountain – benefited from the format.On the girls’ side, the Devils qualified Ewing, Katie Wick (17th, 13:04.7) and Haley Didier (25th, 13:47.3). Ewing and Wick also put up state times in the freestyle portion. The Devils will have a full team at state for classic and two racers – the aforementioned Ewing and Wick – in freestyle.After Eldora’s race, the Devils boys will have a full crew, which bodes well for Steamboat on Feb. 20-21.”Well, you hope so,” Glen Ewing said. “James (Ewing) has come on strong this year, Last year, he had a hard time qualifying. Same with Wes Minett. Alex Gamble has come on pretty well. We just hope these guys can carry it.”Minett (20th, 11:46.8), Gamble (25th, 12:05), Kyle Simonett (28th, 12:20.6) and Jake Brock (34th, 12:48.2) all made the cut in freestyle. In classic, Simonett (33rd, 12:19.8) punched his ticket for state.Stevenson leads HuskiesBattle Mountain’s Grant Stevenson was the model of consistency at the duathlon, finishing third on both sides of the competition.He clocked a 9:52.6 on the classic side and put up a 10:30.1 in freestyle.”It was just a good day,” Stevenson said. “I’m not the greatest in both. Being able to do one and then the other helped.””Grant’s really coming along,” Huskies coach Mia Stockdale said. “He’s going super fast. I think his training has really paid off. He’s really focused and determined. He’s hungry to do well.”The Huskies continued to build their numbers for Steamboat, especially on the Nordic side. That’s good news for Battle Mountain, an alpine powerhouse, in its quest for a state title.”I think everybody feels like it’s more of a team,” Stockdale said. “Everyone is really motivated because we have such a big team. In practice, everyone is really pushing each other to do well. And, the young kids are really coming around and that makes the experienced kids go that much faster.”In all, according to Huskies ski director Kathryn Benysh, the Huskies have a total of 30 skiers – 18 boys and 12 girls – who are Steamboat-bound. And, she said that number could well rise once the alpine results from last week’s slalom, also in Eldora, become official.For the Battle Mountain boys, Stevenson, John McGee (19th, 11:31), Mitch Hendrix (23rd, 11:54.6), Taylor Roach (26th, 12:05.6) and Clayton McRory (27th, 12:06) put up state times in classic. In freestyle, Stevenson, Hendrix (26th, 12:16.5), McRory (29th, 12:21.8), Roach (30th, 12:25.6) and McGee (35th, 12:48) had qualifying times.On the girls’ side, in the skate, Maddie McCaulley (eighth, 12:35.2), Molly McGee (13th, 13:57.4), Kendall Wilson (17th, 14:13.4), Whitney Allard (18th, 14:16.8) and Courtney Davis (26th, 15:01.8) are headed to the dance in freestyle. McCaulley (14th, 12:50) and Allard (21st, 12:29.5) had state times in classic.Boozi qualifiesfor VMSThe Vail Mountain School treated the Eldora duathlon like a practice, but that didn’t stop Michael Busenhart from earning a state berth.Boozi, as he’s best known, took 18th in the classic with an 11:28.3. Haleigh Armstrong, already qualified in both disciplines, was the only other Gore Ranger to log state times with an eighth-place finish in the classic and a 16th in the freestyle.VMS, a definite contender for the state Nordic title, has nine skiers qualified in both disciplines and Busenhart made it 10 by qualifying in classic.The regular season wraps this weekend with a giant slalom on Golden Peak Friday, starting at 9:30 a.m., followed by a classic in Carbondale Saturday.Editor’s note: Alpine results from Eldora were not available as of press time.