Stevenson (Grant) wins Skimeister |

Stevenson (Grant) wins Skimeister

Preston Utley/Vail DailyBattle Mountain's Grant Stevenson holds his Skier of the Year trophy in his left hand and his Skimeister award in his right on Sunday.

EAGLE-VAIL – The Stevenson family finally has its Skimeister.For eight long years, James and Grant Stevenson have pursued the award for being the best all-around skier in high school skiing.James, Battle Mountain Class of 2001, was a runner-up in his junior and senior years. Grant, Class of 2005, was the runner-up last year as a junior.Saturday at the awards ceremony capping the 2005 state meet in Summit County, Grant finally got the brass ring or rather the Skimeister glass trophy.”So, I was sitting there saying, ‘Well, fifth place wouldn’t be bad,'” Grant said. “Then, fifth place was announced. ‘Well, fourth place wouldn’t be bad.’ Third, second and then I’m going, ‘Man, maybe I didn’t make it on the podium.’ Then, my name comes up and it’s like, ‘Wow, I finally did it.'”And by the way, Grant was also named Skier of the Year, becoming the second consecutive Huskies male skier to pull the double. Taylor Roach did it last year.Family affairSkiing is a family tradition for the Stevensons. Parents, Mark and Lee, both ski. They got James and Grant on flats when they were young boys.Mark and Lee have been constants when it comes to the Battle Mountain ski program.”They’re backbone of our parent organization,” said Kathryn Benysh, the director of Battle Mountain’s skiing program. “Any time anything needs to be done, they just raise their hand. Anything from delivering Krispy Kremes to ripping the toilet out of our stinky ski storage area in the high school.” “I’m a teacher, so I love being around kids,” Lee said. “So it’s been a great eight years hanging out with these kids. We’ve really enjoyed it. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t like it and, yes, we like doing lots.”

“We won’t know what to do when we don’t have to do it anymore,” Mark joked.For the record, though the Stevenson brothers are done with skiing, don’t expect to see Mark and Lee disappear from the scene.”We’re going to go to an occasional ski meet and ring a bell,” Mark added.And how important were Mark and Lee to Grant’s quest?”Everything,” Grant said. “Without them, it wouldn’t have happened.”Ding-dongLast Thursday night at around 11 p.m., the doorbell rang at the Stevenson’s residence in Eagle. Mark was none too pleased with the late night intrusion.”I can’t repeat most of what was said when the doorbell rang,” Mark said with a laugh.”Well, if you feel that way, I’ll go back home,” replied James, now a senior at Valparaiso University in Indiana. He had made a surprise trip to support Grant at the state meet. Grant was sound asleep and didn’t find out until Friday morning that James was in the house.Although the Skimeister is awarded based on regular season races, Grant was a little nervous with James in the crowd for state.”Finding out that he was there was kind of nerve-wracking, but it was really nice for him to come,” Grant said. “Having him there showed that he was there for me. But, the pressure was on. Still, to impress my brother was an important thing.”

For James, it was the first time he’d ever been outside the ropes instead of racing and it was a somewhat bizarre experience.”During the alpine, I really wanted to get up there,” James said. “I felt bad not racing. I was bored out of my mind. But by the time we got to Nordic, I was saying, ‘Thank God, I’m just standing on the side, not puking my guts out.'”Getting to the topGrant had thought he had lost the Skimeister after spilling twice in giant slalom. But, Grant’s strength is in Nordic and he likely salted away the Skimeister when he won in Nederland in freestyle last month.High school skiing is a tight-knit world. When Grant finally got the trophy, he got a standing ovation from four teams – Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Vail Mountain and Clear Creek.”I basically had four teams behind me,” Grant said. “It was great. It was awesome.””He is so deserving,” Benysh said. “Grant, just like his parents, is willing to do anything. He will act as an assistant coach, working with younger kids. He’ll go out and test wax. He’s a competitor with a lot of integrity. He respects his fellow competitors and they respect him. You always get a 100-percent effort out of him. I think that’s why they call him the Ethiopian, because he never stops running.”James was graceful about his brother winning the Holy Grail he had failed to capture.”I was really happy for him,” James said. “I was hoping he was going to get it. Some of the coaches had told me before hand he had won, but I was holding my breath.”Sibling rivalry

So, where will the Skimeister trophy go?”Probably right up in Grant’s room where James can see it every time he comes in,” Mark joked.Grant said it’s going right next to his cross country awards and last year’s second-place Skimeister trophy. But this fact does bring to light that the two brothers have a friendly rivalry in just about anything.Pool, pingpong, air hockey, you name it. They compete.Earlier in the season, Grant joked that if he won the Skimeister, he wouldn’t let his brother touch it.”I might hide it from him to tick him off a little,” James said. “He already stole my skis. I just might take the trophy back to Indiana until the summer.””Even if he stole it, I’d still have it against him,” Grant retorted.All kidding aside, Grant said that the Skimeister also belongs to James and the family.”I do,” Grant said. “It’s something that he went for and it’s a family thing.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or, Colorado

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