Rewarded, but they’re not done yet
EAGLE-VAIL – The Oscars they were not. Friday night’s state ski meet awards bore some resemblance to this weekend’s movie awards ceremony, but there was a glaring difference.At the Oscars, the winners know they are nominated. At the ski awards, this isn’t always the case.When Battle Mountain athletic director Rich Houghton began to introduce the female Nordic skier of the year, he noted the girl had competed in the state meet with broken bones in her arm.”In the back of my mind, I was thinking, ‘Who else is that crazy? Who else did that,'” said Battle Mountain’s Kendall Wilson.Wilson – the only one crazy enough to ski in a skate and classical race with a broken thumb and fractured ulna – had no idea she’d been nominated for the award voted on by coaches.”I was pretty surprised when they called my name,” Wilson said.”Going into this season, I was hoping for top 10 at state – this isn’t so shabby now.”
Initially after her injury that occurred shortly before state, Wilson, the senior, thought her Nordic season was over.”After I competed in a snowboarding event, I said I could do this,” Wilson said. “I decided to go for it. It’s kind of closure on four years of Nordic skiing.”On the boys’ side, Vail Mountain’s Chris Woods got the nod for Nordic skier of the year.”It’s really a huge honor and so unbelievable to me that I’ve been recognized by coaches throughout the state,” Woods said. Woods, last year’s Skimeister, was named all-state in classic, one of a cadre of awards for Nordic skiers on his team, and in the county.”I think that Eagle County has been representing the skiing industry well with Nordic and alpine. Our teams have been driven and dedicated,” Woods said.Broom for one more
Vail Mountain, a high school of around 100, took first at the state for girls in both events, and also cleaned up for the season. The boys were second at state and throughout the season.”Our team has bonded really well and worked to where we are now,” Woods said. “We may be one of the hardest working teams in Colorado, especially under the leadership of (coaches) Dan Weiland and Karl Hoechtl.”Heading up the girls’ dominance was Karlie Moore. After a sophomore campaign that saw her finish fourth in both events at state, Moore set some lofty goals for this season – all the way back in July.”I’ve been focusing on them for a while,” said Moore, who has already reached her high school skiing goals of placing top two at the state meet and getting all-state nods for both events.Moore, the only junior on the podium both days, was only 21 seconds back for classical and five back for skate.”It’s a lot of motivation,” Moore said, alluding to training this upcoming summer.But there’s still plenty of skiing left this year. Moore hopes to be do well at this weekend’s junior national qualifier in Crested Butte, and excel again at nationals in Solider Hollow, Utah.”I would like to get top 10 in all three events (at nationals),” Moore said.
In addition to skate and classical races, nationals has a 1.3K sprint.Joining Moore on the all-state team were teammates Kaitlin Zdechlik in classical and Lani Bruntz in skate.”We had a really strong team this year,” Moore said.Rye guyAs a freshman, Vail Mountain’s Tony Ryerson spent most of the year in the top 15 or 20. After a mediocre performance at state, Ryerson headed into the summer ready for his roller skis.”I trained a lot in the summer and really worked on my technique,” Ryerson said.When fall came, Ryerson, along with Woods, spent the season on the soccer pitch. When soccer ended, they headed right into Nordic, not missing a beat.
Ryerson, whose goal for state was at least one top-five finish at state, nabbed fourth each day, and also picked up all-state honors in both disciplines. Right behind Ryerson in both state races was Woods in fifth.”I was beating Chris a lot at the beginning of the year, and the week before states, he beat me and I had to pick it up some more, so (the competition) really helps both of us,” Ryerson said.What also gave Ryerson an edge this year was his experience at last year’s junior nationals.”It was harder competition, so you really had to be racing your best all the time,” Ryerson said. “It made me realize that every second counts. You can be five seconds off and be 10 places back.”Three for allWhat she does in the fall and spring, she does in the winter.Vail Christian’s Molly McGee, a cross country and track star at the state level, picked up the medals in Nordic – again.
McGee, a senior, followed up her skate all-state performance from last year with a selection in both disciplines this year.”It’s good to know it’s not just running,” McGee said of her success. “It’s a pretty easy transition (to skiing). You can’t just sit still after you’ve been in cross country.”At the state Nordic meet, McGee was mobile and fast, taking third in skate and fourth in classical.And in only their second year, the Saints – three skiers strong – took third for the year in skate and classical.”Comparatively, we did amazing,” McGee said.McGee still has another goal – nationals – and then she’ll throw the track spikes on for one final high school season.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.