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State Ski meet begins Friday

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The only certainty involving the state ski meet is uncertainty.

None of the 12 regular season meets matter now. All that matters are the four races Friday and Saturday up in Steamboat Springs.

Aspen’s girls and Summit County’s boys are the favorites, but the bottom line is – it comes to who gets down the hill, who pops a ski or misses a gate, takes a tumble on the Nordic track or who has the day of his or her life.



“The thing about a championship race is that you usually let it all hang out there,” VMS alpine coach Liv Pierce said. “It’s not like a qualifying race. These guys will be pushing it hard. On the flip side, that means a lot of crashes and (disqualifications). In a championship race, you don’t hike. You wipe out.”

In short, it’s a crapshoot. So, buckle up. Your guess is as good as ours when it comes to the 2004 state ski meet.



The format and the courses

OK, we were kidding. We do know two things about what’s going to happen.

First, the top three skiers from each school accumulate points in the four races – giant slalom, slalom and Nordic classic and freestyle. Those points are all added together to determine a team-state champion.



This, of course, is easier said than done. In 2001, the Colorado High School Activities Association botched the math in Lake County, awarding the title to the Summit’s boys instead of the Huskies. Upon further review, the trophy was returned to Eagle-Vail.

As for the courses, Friday’s Nordic classic is at the Steamboat Spring Touring Center at 3 p.m. – and it is state-worthy.

“The first two kilometers are uphill,” Devils Nordic coach Glen Ewing said. “There’s not a lot of time to warm up at the start. The race will be decided in those first two kilometers.”

The Nordic freestyle is Saturday at 3 p.m. at Howelsen Hill.

“It’s relentless,” Ewing said. “There’s no time to rest. It’s really steep up. It’s really steep down.”

Ouch.

Onto the alpine venues. The GS starts at 9:30 a.m. on Friday at Mount Werner. For insight, we go to VMS alpine coach Liv Pierce.

“Mount Werner is a little like Golden Peak,” she said. “The GS course is consistent. There are some area of knolls, a lot like the lower part of Golden Peak. The (winning time of a run) should be about 55 seconds.”

The slalom moves everyone back to Howelsen – Saturday at 9:30 a.m. – and those who will conquer the hill will be the smart skiers.

“It’s a classic, steep slalom,” Pierce said. “I think it’s a race of wits. The guy who races smart is going to win. He’ll going for it, but he’s going to have to be smart.”

Nordic

The 800-pound gorilla of the local three high schools is actually the smallest school, Vail Mountain. Out of a student body of 76 kids, 10 – nine in both disciplines – are qualified in Nordic.

“It’s quite amazing,” VMS assistant Nordic coach Karl Hochtl said. “It’s quite satisfying as a coach. The kids have listened and worked hard to what (head coach) Dan Weiland and I have said. They’ve worked on it, processed it and it’s pretty exciting.”

The VMS boys have won two races during the regular season and both Sylvan Ellefson and Haleigh Armstrong have won individual races.

So, some hardware is not out of the question.

“We’d like to see if we can get five in the top 10,” Weiland said. “It’s a good goal to have. It’s a lofty goal, but anything’s possible the way the season has been progressing. Now, it’s up to them. It’s gut check time.”

Jill Ewing and Katie Wick have led the way for the Devils Nordic team – and Glen Ewing would like to see the trend continue.

“We would expect Jill in the top 10,” he said. “Katie, I’d like to see her in the top 10. Top 15 still would be good for her. We put a lot of emphasis on state. These are the only two races I care about. I’m going to do whatever I can to have them ready and prepared.”

Look for James Ewing and Nathan Hoza for the Eagle Valley boys.

For Battle Mountain, Grant Stevenson, Taylor Roach, Mitch Hendrix and John McGee look to lead the boys’ team.

On the girls’ side, watch out for Maddie McCaulley, Meghan Meehan and Kendall Wilson.

“We did recovery last week and got after it this week,” Huskies Nordic coach Mia Stockdale said. “We feel rested and strong. … I just want to see them give a good effort so they don’t come away with any regrets. It will sort itself out from there.”

Alpine

It’s been a different kind of year for Battle Mountain and VMS on the hill. There have been stellar individual performances, but rare has been am all-around team effort for either school.

But, as has been noted earlier, the regular season means absolutely nothing.

The Huskies have the potential to put it all together and win the GS or slalom. The Huskies have a whopping 26 alpiners heading to Steamboat, a tremendous accomplishment.

Lauren Arnold, Andrea Knight, Erika Ghent and the Heidis – Lauterbach and Moore – all have the skills to put up high finishes for the Lady Huskies. Ghent, in particular, could challenge for the podium.

On the boys’ side, Muzi Gaziolgu and Robert Gosiewski are definite podium threats. Also watch for Roach.

For VMS, the Gore Rangers will be missing Duncan Robinson, who is at the Colorado Invite in Eldora, looking for precious FIS points. But, that does not leave VMS Robinson-less. Sister Courtney is definitely a threat to medal.

Pierce believes that VMS will be stronger in Friday’s GS.

For Eagle Valley, both Kyle Green and Chris Brandl have put up strong performances this season, so the Devils will be well-represented on the hill.

News and notes

Summit and Aspen are the defending boys and girls team champions, respectively. … The Battle Mountain boys last won in 2001, while the girls won in 1998. … The Vail Mountain boys won in 1991. … All-state honors will also be on the line this weekend. Skiers have accumulated points throughout the season in their disciplines, but the points will be doubled for the races this weekend. The awards will be doled out Saturday night. … The Skimeister race is over, but the winners will not be announced until Saturday. If we told you, we’d have to kill you. So, stay tuned. … Attention all all parents, if you have pictures from this year’s state meet, we’d love them. Please e-mail them to cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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