2021-2022 Prep Winter Preview: Nordic Skiing
Vail Mountain, Battle Mountain, and Eagle Valley High School look ahead to CHSSL schedule while SSCV sets eyes on Junior Nationals
While Thanksgiving week means being with family, stuffing our faces with turkey, and falling asleep watching the Lions lose again, for Nordic skiers, this week is traditionally the highest volume training block. High school, club and NCAA teams are funneled to West Yellowstone, Mont Saint-Anne and Crested Butte to log their K’s and prepare for another long season.
If you don’t have the itch to classic stride yet, hopefully our rundown of the areas prep programs will get you to finally scrape off your summer storage wax.
The Colorado High School Ski League (CHSSL) is what VMS, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley compete in, with individuals earning points throughout the year at specific state qualifier races.
CHSSL is broken up into three divisions: West, East and North.
The teams are listed below:
- Vail Mountain School
- Battle Mountain
- Eagle Valley
- Colorado Rocky Mountain School
- Clear Creek
- Lake County
- Middle Park
Each division has a race or two which is a “Division Race,” and does not count for state qualifying purposes. Valley teams are at Aspen High School Jan. 8 for a division skate race.
Three League races – which all teams are invited to – will determine who competes at the Feb. 17-18 State Championships at Snow Mountain Ranch. The CHSSL Skimeister Championships – for athletes who compete in both alpine and Nordic events – is March 1 at Howelson Hill.
- Division Race: Saturday, January 8, 2022: Skate Race at Snowmass
- League Race: Saturday, January 22, 2022: Skate race at Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge
- League Race: Saturday, January 29, 2022: Classic and Skate Race at Malloit Park in Minturn
- League Race (not a state qualifier race) Saturday, February 5, 2022: Relay race (3 person) at CMC Timberline Campus in Leadville
- League Race: Saturday, February 12, 2022: Classic race at Steamboat Springs Nordic Touring Center
- Thursday/Friday, February 17-18, 2022: State Meet at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby
- Tuesday, March 1, 2022: Skimeister State Championships, Howelson Hill, Steamboat
According to CHSSL documents to qualify for the state championships for Nordic in either classic or freestyle, a skier needs to be both eligible and qualified. Eligible means that a skier must race in and finish at least 2 races in that discipline. These races may be an individual race or a relay in which the skier competes in that discipline. Qualified means that in at least one state qualifier race from that discipline the racer must finish in the top 45% of the finishing field.
Each school is guaranteed a minimum of three skiers in each discipline. If a team does not have three student-athletes who meet the above qualifying requirement, the school may enter as many eligible skiers as necessary to get to three competitors in a discipline.
2021 State Meet Team Results (alpine and Nordic scores are combined)
Boys: 1. Aspen 2. Battle Mountain 3. Middle Park 4. Vail Mountain School
Girls: 1. Aspen 2. Summit 3. Middle Park 4. Vail Mountain School
2021 State Meet Men’s Nordic Results
- Aspen 338
- Eagle Valley 301
- Vail Mountain School 291
- Middle Park 291
- Evergreen 281
- Battle Mountain 279
- Steamboat 264
- Lake County 250
- Summit 228
- Poudre 202
- Nederland 172
- Clear Creek 153
- CRMS 34
- Durango 0
- Platte Canyon 0
- Ridgeview 0
2021 State Meet Women’s Nordic Results
- Aspen 333
- Summit 301
- Lake County 296
- Middle Park 286
- Vail Mountain School 261
- CRMS 259
- Steamboat 254
- Battle Mountain 249
- Poudre 217
- Eagle Valley 214
- Evergreen 203
- Nederland 187
- Clear Creek 139
- Durango 0
- Platte Canyon 0
Battle Mountain High School
2020-2021: Boys – 2nd at State; Girls – 7th at State
Ari Dennis, Garret Moehring, and Frances Farrell
“For the boys, we are looking at a strong team of very good Nordic skiers. We had a minimal number of boys graduate this past year. For the girls, we are building from the past few year, when we had a very strong team of seniors. The girls are getting stronger and getting ready for the positive Nordic race season.” – Coach Jeff Apps
For the past five-plus years, it has been a battle between Battle Mountain and Aspen for the state title. For the Jeff Apps led crew, the focus will be on skiing their very best and shooting for a similar outcome. “A lot of things have to come together to make this happen,” he wrote in an email. “We need both a strong Nordic and alpine team.”
The team started practicing on November 1, and as Nike Southwest Regions has concluded, will inherit a group of aerobic monsters in the coming week. “These athletes transition to Nordic in the winter months to stay fit for the spring track and field season,” he wrote.
Although Middaugh considers himself a runner and mountain biker first, his true calling might be Nordic skiing, where he placed 4th overall in the state classic race.
They are also bringing back a couple of coaches in Christian Apps and Innes Isom and Lisa Isom. The Isom’s were teaching in Myanmar for the past two years.
“Very happy that they both are back,” said Jeff Apps. “Coaching Team Apps and Isom squared!”
Maloit Park, Jan. 29 – Fans can see how both techniques are done as a morning classic will be followed by a skate race in Minturn. “It should be a good indicator to see how the teams will do in February,” said Apps.
Eagle Valley High School
Caitlyn Weathers, Cole Weathers, Clay Humphries, Nathan Moody, Aiden Duffy
Samantha Blair, Avan Bergsten, Emma Bergsten, Justine St. John, Brynn Moody, Ferguson St. John, Lukas Bergsten
Samantha Blair was the top finisher at state for the Devils last season (21st in the 3k skate and 14th in the 5k classic). Ava Bergsten, Emma Bergsten, Justine St. John, and Brynn Moody, were youngsters at the state meet last year and will enter 2022 looking to improve.
On the boy’s side, Eagle Valley has a lot to be excited about. After placing second in the Nordic rankings last year, the Devils return their top two skiers and will attempt to take down perennial power Aspen on Feb. 17-18.
With Aspen’s Taiga Moore gone, Ferguson St. John is the highest returning skate and classic ski finisher from 2021. Both St. John and Lukas Bergsten are coming off of successful cross-country seasons which wrapped up at Nike Southwest Regions last week. The Devils will miss some depth with the loss of Aiden Duffy and Nathan Moody, but perhaps St. John and Bergsten can convince aerobic monster Jake Drever, the number one distance runner at Eagle Valley, to try the skinny skis and fill out the roster.
Vail Mountain School
Elliot Pribramsky, Quinn Kelley, Will Brown, Alexander Viola
Luke Huml, Connor Cooley, Cyrus Creasy, Will Brunner, Charlotte Johnson, Cami Johnson, Tegan Sharfstein
As a result of a vote to move the CHSSA state meet to the 17th and 18th of February, the same weekend as the Maloit Park Rocky Mountain Nordic club races (a key race for determining Junior Nationals spots), several Vail Mountain School athletes chose to sit out the high school schedule this season. Shawn Ellenbaum’s crew will be missing Izzy Glakin, Cole Flashner and Mason Cruz-Abrahms as a result of the unfortunate scheduling conflict.
“With those skiers out we still have a small but competitive force on the boys side and the girls will look to enjoy the season with a focus on having fun senior year and looking forward to the Skimeister competition,” he wrote.
“Hopefully next season the club and HS schedule will be back to normal allowing all of our athletes to return for a dramatic senior year.”
March 1 – Skimeister Championships – the full day of Nordic and alpine competition at Howelson Hill in Steamboat Springs is the old-fashioned contest to see who is truly the best all-around skier. “It is the race I look forward to the most as a coach,” Ellenbaum said.
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail
- Dec. 18-19 – AVSC Trails, Aspen
- Jan. 21-22 – Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby
- Feb. 5-6 – Frisco Nordic Center, Frisco
- Feb. 19-20 – Maloit Park, Minturn
- Mar. 7-12 – Junior Nationals – Minneapolis, MN
2021 Results: “Last year we were able to offer a really robust calendar for local and regional level racing bringing teams together from the county for our local Town Series, the state for our divisional races and from the Western Region for a championship series of races at Soldier Hollow in Utah.” – Head coach Eric Pepper
“We graduated 4 seniors who had been with the program for a long time who all have gone on to ski in college. So, that has created some space for others to step into both athletically and in leadership roles.” – Pepper
“We have a strong team returning for this season with a nice blend of experienced U20s and U18s as well as some U16s who are looking to experience what a season of a more full racing calendar and level of competition will look like.” – Pepper
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail does not compete in the CHSSL competitions, but instead targets the regional and national club competitions. Some of his athletes, such as newcomers Rose and Adele Horning, will compete for CHSSL glory (Lake County for the Leadville-based sisters) while simultaneously earning points to make the Rocky Mountain Nordic’s Junior National squad. Most of SSCV’s athletes, however, will simply focus on the Rocky Mountain Division JNQ (Junior National Qualifiers) events.
While last season included a robust regional schedule, Pepper is excited for the return of national level competitions in 2022.
“Plans at this time include a full return to national racing so we have many of our program members looking forward to Senior National Championships at Soldier Hollow, Utah in January and Junior National Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota in March,” he said.
SSCV is headed for an early race experience in West Yellowstone this weekend, where many pro, collegiate, and club teams across the country have congregated to train and race. As of this writing, no word has been confirmed on whether a lack of snow has prevented those FIS races from being run. Either way, Pepper said the fitness is where it needs to be.
“We have had a really good summer and fall of dryland training and are looking forward to transitioning to on snow training with an eye on racing and having the opportunity to test out what we have learned,” he said.
As members of the Rocky Mountain Division, the season is largely structured around the four weekends that serve as qualifying events for Junior Nationals in Minneapolis in March. The final of those events is scheduled for Feb. 19-20 at Maloit Park.