Vail Valley makes an all-state(ment)
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Unless you were stuck in a six-foot mogul all winter long, you’ve probably heard about high school skiers from the Vail Valley.
If, however, you missed out on the regular season and the state championships, you can gloss over the postseason honors to get an idea as to just how dominant local skiers were.
Half of the Nordic All-state selections went to local skiers, while the Battle Mountain girls alpine team took seven of 16 spots.
“This is a very special year,” said Battle Mountain alpine coach Simon Marsh. “We had so many great skiers on our team, and all season long, they just dominated races. We’ve never seen anything like it before.”
All-state selections are based on results from the regular season and the state meet, where points counted double. Karl Hochtl, who coaches both Vail Mountain and Vail Christian Nordic, thinks all the honors reflect the skiers’ dedication to the sport.
“One thing that was evident with the boys and girls is they are out there working summer and fall,” he said. “It’s not rocket science in terms of what we do.”
Battle Mountain girls alpine, winner of five of six regular season races and both state competitions, ran away with the slalom and giant slalom titles.
The Huskies had four girls selected to the eight-person All-state giant slalom squad. Marisa Ammaturo, with a first- and second-place finish in the regular season, and a top-five finish at state, edged out teammate Jamie Lee Roberts by one point to take the giant slalom title. Jenny Banner, with only two races ” a second-place in the regular season and a win at state ” was fifth in the giant slalom standings, with Kelly VanHee one spot back.
“We knew they could all do well in giant slalom, and they did,” Marsh said. On the slalom side, Battle Mountain swept the top three spots, with VanHee decisively in first. VanHee won the opening slalom at Beaver Creek, took second at the Winter Park race and took second at state.
“Kelly has been solid all four years,” Marsh said of the senior, who did not race club during high school.
Roberts and Banner had the same number of points but Roberts finished in second place by virtue of scoring in more races. Banner, however, won both of the races in which she competed the second regular season slalom and the state slalom.
“Watching the slalom at state was so exciting because Kelly came down with a phenomenal run and was in the lead, and just as we were watching her finish, Jenny comes down and had a run equal to that of a top FIS-level racer. It was incredible,” Marsh said.
Hochtl still has trouble believing Vail Mountain’s performance this season. “When everything is said and done, and you see it on paper and the times are posted it’s pretty amazing,” he said.
On the boys side, Vail Mountain nearly took the top four spots on the All-state skate team. Tony Ryerson, who won the state race, was first, while Sean Woods and Rob Fitz tied for second. Chris Woods, who was second at state, was just one point behind Summit’s Tyler Reinking in fourth.
“It’s awesome,” Hochtl said. “Especially for a guy like Rob Fitz to make it. He had some great results and worked hard all year.”
Battle Mountain’s Conor Wallace was also named to the All-state skate squad. The Gore Rangers won the classic team title and saw three racers earn spots on the five-person team. Chris Woods, with three top-five regular season races and a win at state, was tops among all skiers. Sean Woods, who won the final classic race and was third at state, edged out Aspen’s Whit Parker to be third on the All-state team. And by virtue of only his regular season races ” a win, third and fourth ” Tony Ryerson grabbed the final spot on the team.
“I remember back to when the only reason Vail Mountain had kids skiing as state was because they had the automatically allotted spots,” Hochtl said. “For a couple years, that’s how we got to state.”
When you finish no worse than second place, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be an All-state selection. Vail Mountain’s Karlie Moore won two of three regular season classic races, took second in another and at the state competition to earn the top All-state spot. Vail Christian’s Jessica Linder, with a trio of top-three regular season finishes, was second on the All-state team. The Gore Rangers tied Summit for the classic crown.
Linder, who was the hallmark of consistency this season, was second in both of her regular season skate races, and third at state, giving her the No. 2 All-state spot. Moore, despite sitting out early in the season with back problems, was All-state as well. And Vail Mountain’s Kaitlin Zdechlik tied for the final skate spot.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at (970) 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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