Carbondale’s LaPoint leads valley locals in Owl Creek Chase XC ski race in Aspen
2019 Owl Creek Chase winners
Classic men: Mitchell Hollman, USAF
Classic women: Kara LaPoint, Carbondale
Skate men: Erik Lynch, Steamboat Springs
Skate women: Meghan Kent, Laramie, Wyo.
Carbondale’s Kara LaPoint likes the Owl Creek Chase cross-country ski race for a lot of reasons. Certainly her knack for winning it is on that list somewhere.
“This is the one I always make sure to do because I love the course so much,” LaPoint said. “This is one of my favorite trails to do. I like skiing it throughout the year. It’s beautiful and it’s great terrain. Just having the opportunity to race on that course is fantastic and one I like to take advantage of every year.”
For the third year in a row, LaPoint won the women’s classic ski race Sunday, which features a 21-kilometer course from Snowmass to the finish at the Aspen Nordic Center, via the Owl Creek Trail. The race, which dates back to 1985, currently is organized by Aspen Parks and Recreation, and is part of the Colorado Nordic Race Series.
This was LaPoint’s second win on the full course; her first came in 2017. She also won in 2018, but because of snow conditions last winter that race was limited to only 10 kilometers and was held near the high school.
It wasn’t an easy win, as LaPoint only beat Boulder’s Ellie Hands by about 10 seconds. Hannah Miller, also of Boulder, was third among women in the classic race. The men’s and women’s winner of the classic race each received $300, with $200 going to second and $100 for third.
“I’ve always been a big fan of classic skiing,” the 32-year-old LaPoint said. “It’s kind of my preferred technique and especially with this course, you can get into a real nice flow. It skis really well for classic. I just enjoy it a lot.”
Mitchell Hollman, who competes for the United States Air Force Academy, won the men’s classic race by a narrow margin over Boulder’s Sam Shaheen. Gunnison’s Kevin Geisen was third and Kremmling’s Tyler Scholl fourth.
Erik Lynch of Steamboat Springs won the skate race in a sprint finish over Boulder’s Matt Rossman. Xavier Fane of Crested Butte was third, about eight minutes back of Rossman.
Meghan Kent, of Laramie, Wyoming, won the women’s skate race, finishing seventh overall. In second was Kremmling’s Steph Scholl and in third was Heidi Mellin of Aspen.
Competing in the Owl Creek Chase was a little bit of everything, from grizzled veterans to college athletes to those just getting into middle school.
“Great mix. Lots of people. It was a good turnout this year, which was great to see,” LaPoint said. “For me personally, it was nice to have some really great competition in the women’s race. There were several really strong skiers, so it was fun to have so many people out there really making it a good, tough race.”
For complete results, go to http://www.aspenspecialevents.com.
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Those opting for the spring, like Aspen and Basalt, will begin football practice Feb. 25 and start playing games March 11.