Noah’s spark: A Skiers nordic sweep
VAIL Noah Hoffman and the Aspen boys nordic team managed to exceed the loftiest of expectations.Hoffman lapped the field in Thursday’s state championship classic race for a second consecutive year as the Skiers swept the podium. Hoffman posted a time of 13 minutes, 32.9 seconds – 50 seconds faster than teammate sophomore Scott Lacy. Senior Ryan Waldron was third with a time of 14:53.9. Seven of eight Skiers finished in the top 15, and Aspen’s team total of 177 was 12 better than second-place Vail Mountain School. Summit (156) took third.While nordic did everything it could to keep Aspen on track to win its eighth state championship, fate was out of the boys’ hands. The alpine team’s top two competitors and perennial state title contenders – Wiley Maple and Sam Coffey – did not compete in Thursday’s giant slalom at Vail’s Golden Peak. Maple and Coffey, who were slated to be in Vail, instead took part in a NorAm event in Big Mountain, Montana.
Maple won three of the four high school events he entered this season; he took second behind Coffey in a slalom Jan. 19 at Loveland. Barring travel and weather issues, they could be on the hill for Friday’s slalom.In Maple and Coffey’s absence, the Aspen boys slipped to fifth in the team standings. Combined, the Skiers boys trail first-place Summit by 10 points.”It’s a little disappointing because we were misled into thinking they were coming, but that’s not the big deal. We’re psyched about how our kids are doing,” Aspen head nordic coach Travis Moore said Thursday. “The kids are doing what they planned on doing. It is a shame, though, because some of these kids have worked for so many years to reach this point.”Hoffman, who will look to repeat as state freestyle champion Friday, took the lead shortly after the start and never let go as he negotiated the windy course. Last year, he bested his nearest competitor by 16 seconds. Teammate Nate Marrs finished seventh, Whit Parker 10th, Barton Tofany 11th and Ben Armstrong 15th.
Aspen senior Laura Hatanaka posted a time of 17:26.6 to finish third among the girls; Summit’s Briana Perkins (16:45.7) took first, and Karlie Moore of VMS was second, 21 seconds off the pace.Aspen, which had five skiers crack the top 15, finished second to VMS in the team standings. Brittany Marrs finished seventh, Lindsey Wilkinson 10th, Cornelia Carpenter 14th and Nathalie Obermeyer 15th. “We’re hoping they all feel good and rally Friday,” Moore said. “We’re hoping for a much similar outcome. With the way the alpine girls skied today, the girls can get close to second if they step up and ski their best.”While the alpine boys were undermanned, the girls were at full strength and showcased their present and future. Senior two-time state champion Jenny Hearn laid down two solid runs to take second place. Middle Park’s Khyla Burrows posted a two-run time of 2:12.92 to edge Hearn by half a second. Summit’s Alex Guras was third.
Aspen’s Joanna Coffey was 0.6 seconds from making the podium, in fourth. Coffey, a freshman, posted the competition’s fastest second run (1:06.85) and helped the Aspen girls finish third.Aspen head alpine coach Bill Madsen expects both to deliver similarly strong performances in Friday’s slalom.”She was very poised and very focused, and after the run I could see the excitement in her eyes,” Madsen said. “After that second run, she realized she could compete with the older girls. She surprised herself.”Jenny is the anchor of our team, she’s always going to be right there. Week in and week out she rarely has a bobble or a fall.”
On the boys side, senior Stephen Buzbee, who battled an ankle injury he suffered during soccer season, vaulted from 15th place after the first run to 10th. Baker Boyd took 13th and Whit Fuller 33rd for Aspen. Maple’s and Coffey’s presence would drastically improve the Skiers’ chances of narrowing their deficit Friday.”Those guys are skiing really well, and I want them to have every opportunity they can,” Madsen said. “At the same time, we all went through a lot to get qualified, and it’s tough to see them walk away from that. If Wiley and Sam are destined for the World Cup, then this was a step they had to take. “I hope we get them back.” Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Vail and Beaver Creek resorts Senior Communications Manager John Plack said the company agrees with the state’s assessment that the ski industry must be out-front in its approach to ensure a safe and successful season in Colorado.