ASPEN - The Aspen High School ski team put the finishes touches on the 2012-13 season with three individual state titles recently at the State Skiing Championships at Winter Park.
And the Skiers nearly pulled off a second consecutive state team championship, falling just a few points short after the two alpine events (slalom and GS) and two nordic events (skate and classic) for girls and boys.
Freshman Hailey Swirbul of Aspen won two state titles in the nordic races, held at Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby.
Brother Keegan Swirbul won the state championship in the boys nordic classic race.
"Hailey is a powerful skier," said Travis Moore, Aspen High School's nordic coach. "She is very committed. She trains a lot."
She dominated in the girls skate race at Snow Mountain Ranch, winning by nearly 40 seconds over top rival Taeler McCrerey, of Summit High School.
The two staged an epic duel in the classic race, Moore said.
"It was an amazing race. She skied really well," Moore said. "They had tough conditions."
He said there were bitterly cold temperatures with fierce, windy conditions that filled the ski tracks with snow.
With acres and acres of beetle-killed pine cleared around Granby, the wind can really roar in the area, he said.
The classic race featured an uphill finish where Hailey Swirbul held off the charging McCrerey.
"She (Hailey Swirbul) won at the finish line," Moore said of a margin of victory of less than a second.
Keegan's victory in the boys classic race was equally thrilling, Moore said.
"The headwind was horrible. And it was bitter cold," Moore said of the men's classic classic.
On the last half-kilometer, the final climb of the race, "he made his move on Summit's top skier (Jackson Hill)," the AHS coach said.
"He punched up to the front," Moore said, winning by 4 seconds.
Hudson McNamee, of Aspen, finished ninth in the classic race with teammate Nick Sweeney 11th.
Max Marolt, who competed in both alpine and nordic, finished 20th in the boys classic race.
Keegan Swirbul finished sixth in the boys skate race, won by Summit's Hill. Nic Reitman, of Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, finished second.
Sweeney was ninth and McNamee 10th.
Ben Belinski added a 21st, while Marolt logged a 23rd-place finish for the Skiers.
Among the girls, Nina Beidleman of Aspen finished fifth in the women's skate race and 20th in the classic event.
Else Dodge added an eighth in the skate and a 16th in the classic. Hannah Dodge finished 11th in the skate and 14th in the classic.
Logan McNamee, of Aspen, finished fourth in the classic discipline and 16th in the skate race.
Sophie Stuber added a sixth (classic) and a 20th (skate).
In team scoring for nordic, the Aspen girls finished first in classic and skating. Summit was second in the classic race, and Vail Mountain School finished second in the skate.
Summit turned the tables and won the boys classic and skate team titles. The Skiers were second in both.
In composite team scoring, Summit High School won both the boys and girls titles at the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) championships. Aspen was second to Summit by a scant 2 points in boys scoring. The Skiers were third overall in boys scoring behind Summit and No. 2 Evergreen.
Aspen's youthful alpine skiers added to the Skiers' state point totals.
Luke Prosence paced the AHS boys with a fourth-place finish in the state slalom. He added a 22nd-place finish in the giant slalom.
Marolt finished 12th in the boys giant slalom at Winter Park and 23rd in the slalom.
Alphonse Fisher finished 19th for Aspen in the slalom.
Scott Houtsma was 22nd.
Graham Houtsma finished 21st in the boys GS.
Erik Gagen added a No. 23 finish in the GS for the Skiers.
Lilly McSwain led the AHS girls in the giant slalom at Winter Park. She finished ninth in the race won by Dayna Larsen, of Nederland.
She added a 14th in slalom.
Hana Mass finished 10th for Aspen in the slalom, 13th in the GS.
Dolores Sharaf added a 16th place for Aspen in the GS. Teammate Nikki Cardamone finished 22nd.
Sharaf added an 18th in slalom. Cardamone finished 26th.
Nikki Blizzard, of Aspen, was 30th in slalom and 40th in GS.
"It's a blast to have such a great competition, battling really good teams," AHS alpine coach Craig Carlson said."The kids really help each other out."
He said the high school competition in Colorado has improved dramatically in recent years.
"The giant slalom was cold and windy, and we had some new snow to deal with," Carlson said. "But our kids skied pretty well," he said, adding that the Skiers fielded a young roster, particularly on the alpine side.
He called the competition at Winter Park "a quality racing experience for the kids.
"That's close," he said of the team scoring this year. "But at the end of the day, I think the kids learned something."