Woods is the Skimeister
Lettovska misses title by one pointBy Ian CroppDaily Sports WriterEven with a broken thumb and a torn ligament, Chris Woods grabbed the Skimeister title back from the Battle Mountain, where it had resided for the past two years.Woods was recently crowned the boys’ Skimeister with 156 points, 18 more than the next closest finisher.Although Woods was elated with the title, he couldn’t fully celebrate at this past weekend’s state meet.”I had no energy going into the ceremony,” Woods said. “I just wanted to go home and sleep.”After a season of training for both Nordic and alpine events, and four races in two days at state, who could blame him?During the ski season, Woods, a sophomore, trained alpine two days a week and Nordic for three, unlike his freshman year in which he tried to do both each day.”It helped with the focus,” Woods said of his one-format-per-day training. “I didn’t have to rush from one to the next.”This year, Woods’s best finishes included 12th in Nordic and 16th in alpine.Not bad for someone who didn’t start Nordic until his freshman year and returned to ski racing after taking a few years off to freestyle.”When I was a freshman, there was a (Nordic) sign up-sheet, and I decided to give it a try,” Woods said. “I lot of the upperclassmen I looked up to, like Sylvan Ellefson (2003 Skiemeister), said they loved it.”
While there is no doubt that Woods, who plays soccer in the fall, is a talented athlete, he deflects the credit of his success to others.”I think the main thing that contributed to (winning) was coaching,” Woods said. “Liv Pierce (alpine coach), Dan Weiland and Karl Hoechtl (Nordic coaches) were unbelievable with me.”And then there’s Woods’ grit. With his left thumb in a cast to protect the injury, Woods raced in the final Nordic and slalom races of the season in Vail. He finished first out of all Skimeisters in the slalom race, and second in the Nordic race. Had he not competed in one of those two events, second-place Nels Morick of Middle Park would have won the title.After the final races before state, Woods had surgery and had to take a week off from training.”At state, I didn’t do as well as in the regular season,” Woods said. “I know I could do better.”So, what’s in store for next year?”I’m not sure at all. I was thinking about doing just Nordic, but I’d miss the alpine perspective too much,” Woods said. “I want to make the all-state team. That’s my next goal.”Lettovska keeps climbingBattle Mountain’s Jane Lettovska keeps getting closer and closer to the Skimeister title each year.As a freshman, Lettovska finished fourth. Sophomore year, she made her way on the podium with a third-place finish. And this year, well, she missed the top spot by one point, finishing right behind Nederland’s Jess Hadford.”My first thought on the podium was what year is (Hadford)?” Lettovska said.Like Lettovska, Hadford is a junior, but Lettovska seems to have the natural progression working for her.
“Next year I absolutely have to (win),” Lettovska said. “I wanted to get second or first this year, and I achieved that goal.”An early season back injury could have taken Lettovska off-track from her goal, but she amended her training schedule to keep skiing.”My original goal was to train alpine every day I could, but since my back was injured, I went to alpine practice three of four days a week and Nordic once or twice,” Lettovska said. “It was hard, too, because I had to go to the doctor and take pain killers and muscle relaxers.”Much like Woods, Lettovska started Nordic skiing her freshman year.”The balance associated with it was easy, but the technique kills your body,” Lettovska said. “You’ve gotta be crazy to consider it.”Lettovska also has some genetic help on her side. Her parents, Ledislav and Martina, were both aerial skiers in the Czech Republic. Lettovska’s father coached a Czech aerial skier in the 1998 Nagano games.”My brother just skied The Minturn Mile and he’s 4 years old,” Lettovska said.While Lettovska said she wasn’t too keen on following her parents’ footsteps and competing in aerials, she hasn’t been able to get either of her parents to try Nordic skiing yet.In the meantime, Lettovska hopes she can get some of her alpine teammates to join her in competing in Skimeister.”We are losing more of our Nordic team, and it’s nice to have other people to work with, going from practice to practice,” Lettovska said. In the familyBattle Mountain’s Kelly and Kate Van Hee finished up a great season with more top finishes at state.
Sophomore Kelly placed seventh in Friday’s giant slalom, while senior Kate grabbed 27th. In Saturday slalom, Kelly came in eighth, and Kate came in 26th.While the Huskies will miss Kate next year, they will be in good shape, returning Jamie Lee Roberts, (fifth in GS and 12th in slalom at state), Kelly Scholl (16th in GS, 22nd in slalom) and a slew of other skiers. Nordic will return Kendall Wilson and Lettovska, but will be without Michelle Hiland and Whitney Allard. On the boys’ side, Battle Mountain returns top state finishers Mitch Hendrix (10th GS, 12th slalom), Petey Moore (15th slalom), Wilder Heuga (15th GS, 23rd slalom) Jamie Hijmans (18th GS) and Bart Cuomo.Eagle Valley Nordic will be happy to return the Smith brothers (sophomore Ethan and freshman Sage) next year, as well as Kyle Simonett (two top-25 finishes at state), Andy Wentzel, James McGoodwin and Nick Brink. The boys’ alpine team returns its top-three skiers, Cody Coutler, Andre Lane and Griffin Turnipseed, all of whom are freshman.The Devils’ girls alpine team will have top skiers Hannah Nelson, Nicole Luzckow and Kerstin Leary for next year.Vail Mountain is replete with young talent, including top Nordic girls’ skiers Karlie Moore (fourth in both classic and skate) Kaitlin Zdechlik (eighth classic, 16th skate), Lani Bruntz (13th classic) and Elsie Macsata (22nd skate), and girls alpine skiers, Lucy Sackbauer, Kenzie Grant and Joely Denkinger.The boys’ return top alpine skiers Mick Seeman (seventh GS, 10th slalom), Woods, Dave Deline, Blake Armstrong and Jens Kjesbo. On the Nordic side, the Gore Rangers will have Armstrong, Tony Ryerson, Woods and Wes Batts.Vail Christian brings back top Nordic skiers Molly McGee (seventh skate, 11th classic) and Jessica Linder (21st classic), as well as Terrin Kinser on the alpine side.For complete state skiing results, go to http://www.chsaa.org/sports/skiing/skiing.aspSports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado