Vail Valley preps: Shanley, Spaeh roll in qualifier
WINTER PARK- Vail Valley Nordic skiers rolled right to the top of the leader board in last weekend’s high school and junior national Nordic Qualifier.
Battle Mountain’s Christian Shanley won both the high school and junior national qualifier on Saturday, a skate race on a 5K course. He followed it with a strong fourth place finish in the 15K classic race on Sunday.
Vail Mountain School’s Eva Spaeh continued her march toward Colorado’s Skimeister, Colorado’s top prep skier. So far, she leads the state in points, doubling up in both alpine and Nordic for VMS.
“They both had a very solid weekend,” said Karl Hochtl, Nordic competition and development coach for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. “All our kids skied extremely well. Every one of them started utilizing their preparation for the past few months, and some of the new things we’ve instituted. It made a marked improvement in their performances.
Shanley came back from a qualifying race for senior nationals to compete in last weekend’s high school event.
“He was tired and I thought he responded well,” Hochtl said.
The future is bright for local Nordic competitors, Hochtl said.
“We have a lot of young kids, freshmen and sophomores, who are really starting to ski well. It’s awesome to see their development. It bodes well for the future of the program,” he said.
Spaeh is part of a Vail Mountain School girls Nordic team that won the state title last year, and graduated no one.
On the alpine side, VMS already qualified its entire alpine team for the state meet. There are only three of them, but they’re all going.
“We are a small team but they have great hearts, lots of energy and they take care of each other,” said Francois Nanin, VMS alpine coach. “It’s a pretty great start for VMS.”
Senior John McKenna and Spaeh, a junior, are qualified in both the slalom and giant slalom. Spaeh, of course, will also go to state in Nordic. Freshman Billy Mitchell is returning from a horrific leg injury and qualified for the giant slalom.
“He missed qualifying for the slalom by just one place,” Nanin said. “He almost made it the first event of the season. We have plenty of time for him to get in.”
Skiers race alpine on Friday and Nordic on Saturdays. Local prep skiers opened the season in Loveland with a giant slalom, and followed it with a slalom in Winter Park last weekend.