Ski title goes from brother to brother |

Ski title goes from brother to brother

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL ” Anyone looking to get an edge on next year’s Skimeister title may want to book a room at the Woods household.

Vail Mountain’s Sean Woods, a sophomore, won this year’s boys Skimesiter title two years after his brother, Chris, accomplished the same feat.

“I don’t know what they put in the water at the Woods house, but they are doing something right,” said Karl Hochtl, a Vail Mountain Nordic coach.

After a second-place finish his freshman year, Woods easily walked away with Skimeister this year.

“This is the (fifth) year in a row the Skimeister has gone to someone in the (Vail) Valley, and I’m really happy to be a part of that,” Woods said.

Battle Mountain’s Mitch Hendrix won last year, with the Huskies’ Grant Stevenson taking the crown three years ago and the Huskies’ Taylor Roach the year before Stevenson. The Skimeister title is determined by regular-season results from both Nordic and alpine races, where points are awarded to the top finishers in relation to other Skimeister competitors.

Woods dominated the Nordic side of the Skimeister and did more than just hold his own on the alpine end.

“I came into the season hoping to do well in both, but it was a really good season for Nordic, and I was able to progress,” said Woods, who just started skiing Nordic his freshman year.

Calling his Nordic season good would be an understatement. Woods won a classic race at Middle Park, took third at the state classic race and fifth at the state skate race, and was named all-state in both disciplines.

“He may be the first skier in a long time that has won Skimeister and a Nordic race,” Hochtl said.

Woods excelled at the club level, too, winning a junior national qualifier sprint race.

“There’s something special going on there,” Hochtl said. “When he won that sprint race in Soldier Hollow (Utah), it was his coming-out party. It’ll be interesting to see what he does at junior nationals this year.

“But the kid will never advertise he’s won anything ” he’s so humble and appreciative.”

Of all his accomplishments this season, the one Woods likes to point to wasn’t just his own ” it was the Gore Rangers’ finish at the state tournament.

“I’m amazed at how well we did overall ” we were second in the state, which was pretty cool,” Woods said.

Vail Mountain, a school of barely more than 100 students, came in one spot behind Summit County, a school almost nine times as big as Vail Mountain School.

Woods was 23rd in the state slalom race and a team-best 18th in the giant slalom. While Woods spent one or two days practicing alpine last year, he rarely, if ever, trained gates this year.

“My coach Ross (Sappenfield) was really understanding with everything and saw that I was more into Nordic and that I also needed to stay up on my schoolwork,” Woods said.

Hochtl thinks part of Woods’ lightning-fast progression in Nordic can be attributed to his alpine background.

“It really helps him,” Hochtl said. “He has great balance and knows how to glide and how to react on his skis. That’s not something you can teach someone overnight.”

Along with his coaches, Woods got some tips from his brother.

“The key for him was finishing his alpine races because he knew he was going to be missing some key races,” Chris Woods said. “He had to kind of ski a little more timid to make sure he got down the hill.”

Sean Woods was happy to have had his brother by his side.

“He supported me through the whole season,” Sean Woods said. “He went through it the same way I did. He was always there for me. He sprinted over to my alpine race at Steamboat.”

While Sean Woods is still undecided as to whether he’ll pursue both alpine and Nordic next year, Hochtl thinks just Nordic may be the way to go.

“Based on results, and what he’s accomplished, it only makes sense,” Hochtl said. “But he’s an individual and can decide.”

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or

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