Vail Christian’s Hamina wins Skimeister |

Vail Christian’s Hamina wins Skimeister

SPT Hamina 2 KA 02-26-10

EDWARDS – It’s been a pretty dull week for Vail Christian senior Ian Hamina.

No practice. No long car trips. No multiple races. He even did a little, gasp, recreational powder skiing Friday.

“It’s been wonderful,” Hamina said. “Next week, I’ll get a little tired of it. But for one week, it’s good to be happy with yourself.”

Hamina deserves a little break. He became the first Vail Christian athlete to win the Skimeister Award, as the state’s best all-around high school skier, last week.

The Skimeister genes are in the family – his mother, Val, Battle Mountain, Class of 1980, competed for it in her high school days. But for Ian, this all started out as a way to stay in shape during the winter months between cross country in the fall and track in the spring.

“I’ve been on alpine skis for my entire life,” he said. “I did a little Nordic in eighth grade and restarted my sophomore year. It was pretty much carrying over my exercise.”

Hamina dabbled with the Skimeister, but went full in this winter – and with it came all the challenges of the pursuit.

The first interesting issue is how does young Hamina make Nordic practice at 3:30 p.m. in Vail when the bell doesn’t ring at Vail Christian in Edwards until 3:15 p.m.

“I never made it on time,” Hamina joked. “I’d get there about 3:45 or 4. Karl Hochtl or Dan Weiland would have me do intervals or go long distance for an hour or two.”

“An hour or two” means somewhere in the range of 10 miles. This is the less-than glamorous part of winning a Skimeister when your iPod is about your only friend on cold afternoons.

Hamina actually started before the snow was falling doing dryland as well. He also did some weightlifting in the morning before school before that understandably became too much.

Then there was the alpine side of the equation. Wednesdays were a bit of a welcome break. While serious work, alpine training at Bachelor Gulch was nice break-up to the monotony of the routine. After all the Nordic skiing, gravity’s a nice thing.

“I’d love it,” Hamina said. “We’d get to train with Eagle Valley on Gunder’s. It was a little more leisurely, getting to talk to my friends on the lifts.”

And then there were race weekends, usually alpine on Friday and Nordic on Saturday. And this is important – Hamina would have pasta before alpine races and steak before Nordic.

It seemed to work. With his strength in Nordic, Hamina aimed for top-20 finishes in the giant slalom and slalom. He was 5-for–6 on that count. Come Nordic on Saturdays, the goal was top-10, and he was also 5-for-6, and the only time he missed his target in Nordic he was 11th.

And somewhere in all of this, the senior needed to look after the books. He’s looking at attending either Regis or CU-Denver next fall. Hamina took advantage of his Vail Christian teachers offering extra time on Tueusdays.

The load did get to be a little much a times.

“There were times when I was doing my homework late at night where I just told myself I have to go to sleep,” Hamina said.

But it was worth it in the end. By winning the Skimeister, Hamina becomes only the second individual state champion in Vail Christian history – Nordic skier Jessica Linder won both classic and skate Nordic last year. He also joins an exclusive club of local Skimeisters.

Battle Mountain’s Jamie Lee Roberts was the last to do it in 2008. Recent local winners on the boys’ side Vail Mountain’s Chris and Sean Woods, Sylan Ellefson, Battle Mountain’s Mitch Hendrix and both Karl and Kevin Hochtl, the second-to-last being one of Hamina’s current coaches.

Hamina capped off his Skimeister season with four races in two days at the state meet, and then he got the word he had achieved his goal.

“I was so happy when I heard about it,” Hamina said. I couldn’t believe it.”

At last report, the award is sitting proudly on the Haminas’ kitchen table. Meanwhile, Ian celebrated in his own way.

“I long, hot shower and then I went to sleep for 14 hours.”

That’s good because his week off is just about over. Vail Christian track and field meets Monday to start the season.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

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