Gore Rangers earn top finishes at Gold Run
BRECKENRIDGE – In the first Nordic ski race of the year, Eagle County led the way for Valley teams, placing a handful of boys and girls in the top 10.Not only did the Gore Rangers place well in the high school race, but they had first-place finishes in the Rocky Mountain Division.”The day started out well and ended well,” said Vail Mountain coach Dan Weiland. “Anytime you get wins in individual divisions, you are skiing pretty well.”Leading the way for the Vail Mountain boys were, Josh Smith (third place), Taylor Sheldon (fourth), Bobby LeGaye (11th) and Chris Woods (17th). Also, Sylvan Ellefson (VMS ’05) placed either first or second in the overall RMD race (scores are not made available until the day after the race).For the Vail Mountain girls, Karlie Moore won the RMD J2 group, Lani Bruntz placed sixth in the J1 group and Haleigh Armstrong (VMS ’05) won the JO division, while all the girls placed in the top 10 overall.Eagle Valley’s Kyle Simonett had a team-high 18th place finish, qualifying him for the state meet. Just out of state range was the Devils’ Ben Rogers, who finished 31st.”I thought the kids looked as strong as anybody out there,” said Eagle Valley coach Glen Ewing. “We had a whole gaggle of guys, including James McGoodwin, Ethan Smith and Sage Smith finish in the 30s.”For the Devils’ girls, Ali Gulick took 34th, shaving 10 minutes off her previous personal best.Battle Mountain had strong races from its top two girls, with Kendall Wilson taking 11th and Michelle Hiland coming in 20th. Tyler Cole was the top boys finisher.
“We are a fairly inexperienced team on the boys’ side,” said Battle Mountain coach Rich Houghton. “Harrison Huntoon just missed the cut by a minute, and Charlie Coats, in his first race, did better than I thought he would.”And Vail Christian, with three girls on the team, competed in its inaugural race with good resultsMolly McGee came in 10th, while first-year skiers Jessica Linder and Lettie Fickling finished in the 30s and 40s, respectively.”They are in incredible shape,” said coach Jenny Abraham. “Molly is a great runner and Jess has an alpine background.”Wax it upOn the fairly flat course, maintaining a fast pace was important.”I didn’t feel fast, so I went back to double-polling, and that was my downfall,” Simonett said. “I got it into my head that to do well I had to double-poll my brains out. But it was more half and half, and you had to know when to switch it up.”Having waxed skis was just as integral as technique.
“I was scrambling for wax at the last minute,” Houghton said.The flatter course benefited a more-powerful nordic skier, Weiland said.”It didn’t require as much technical ability,” Weiland said. “You saw a lot of the bigger skiers do well. It’s hard to judge overall fitness because it was more of a strength race.”Gulick thought it was a technically easy course, but noted how sore her triceps were after the race.”I was double-polling a lot,” Gulick said.RMDWhile some schools, such as Vail Mountain race high school and RMD, others, like Eagle Valley focus on just high school racing.”We don’t expect to beat those guys, but we are happy when we get kids finishing in that group” Ewing said of RMD skiers. “We have kids who play three sports and don’t train year-round.”
Vail Mountain competed in a RMD race Friday in Frisco, also finishing well as a team.For Ellefson, who now skis at Bates College along with Armstrong, it was a different feeling racing once again in Colorado.”Yesterday, I was in a rough state,” Ellefson said. “The altitude change coming back from the East was tough, but it’s good to get confidence back.”Another Vail Mountain skier who raced on Friday was Woods, except he was alpine racing at Copper Mountain. Woods now holds the lead for the Skimiester.The next race will be a skate course in Steamboat Springs on Jan. 8.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado