Gaston wins another national title, Flynn wins for women in vertical race

Aspen's John Gaston relaxes after finishing the Audi Power of Four ski mountaineering race on Saturday, March, 2, 2019, in Aspen. (Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times).
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

John Gaston did it again. Win, that is.

A day after winning the Audi Power of Four team event alongside fellow Aspenite Max Taam, Gaston won Sunday’s vertical race on Aspen Mountain for his second national championship in as many days.

A 1,940-foot skin from the base to the FIS chairlift — in whiteout, powder conditions, no less — the race was for the United States Ski Mountaineering Association’s vertical race national championship, the final of four national titles handed out by the sport’s overriding U.S. body this winter.

Gaston won with a time of 23 minutes, 55 seconds, for what he says is his 15th national championship.

Boulder’s Rory Kelly was second in 26:00 and Aspen’s Jack Linehan third in 27:43. Taam was fourth in 29:29.

Taking the women’s national championship in vert was Anna Mae Flynn, who finished in 30:24. Flynn is a noted ultra runner based out of Marble who is part of the USSMA national team.

Taking second among women was Aspen’s Jessie Young in 33:36. Young won the Power of Four on Saturday alongside Breckenridge’s Nikki LaRochelle. Megan Bentzin was the third woman to finish on Sunday, coming in at 40:02.

Breck’s Max Bonenberger won the junior men’s division (ages 18-20) with a time on par with that of Gaston. Dillon’s Jeremiah Vaille won the cadet men’s division (17 and under) with a time of 29:36, narrowly edging Aspen’s George Beck, who finished in second.

Silverthorne’s Grace Staberg won the cadet women’s division in 31:37.

Many of the USSMA national team athletes, which includes most of the athletes mentioned above, will compete this week at the skimo world championships in Switzerland.