Strong start for Aspen girls
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. No one landed on the podium, but Aspen’s girls ski team found itself in prime position to nab the state’s ultimate prize – a championship trophy – after a strong showing Thursday at the state championships at Steamboat.The Aspen girls grabbed the early lead after the morning 5-kilometer skate race and were in second with 314 points after Thursday night’s slalom – just three points behind the host Sailors – heading into today’s finale.Aspen’s boys team, which rallied to win the team title last year on the second day of racing, will need a miracle to defend its crown after failing to keep pace with rivals Summit, Vail Mountain and Steamboat.
Heading into today’s giant slalom and classic races, Summit is in first place with 325 points, followed by Vail Mountain (315), the host Sailors (297) and Aspen in fourth (289).Junior Brittany Marrs took sixth in the morning skate race, leading three Aspen skiers into the top 10.Marrs finished the 5K course in 16 minutes, 37 seconds. Summit High School’s Briana Perkins had the day’s fastest time in 15:15, followed by Vail Mountain’s Karlie Moore (15:22) and Vail Christian’s Jess Linder (15:46).Aspen’s Lindsey Wilkinson was eighth (16:42) and teammate Natalie Obermeyer was just a second behind in ninth.Aspen’s other finishers were: Katie Bird (17th, 18:04), Annalise Grueter (20th, 18:13) and Kelsey Tofany (35th, 19:20). After the nordic girls did their part in the morning, Aspen’s three best female alpine skiers held up their end in the afternoon. Freshman Katie Ryan finished fourth with a two-run combined time of 1:29.10 and junior Olivia Davis was eighth in 1:34.40. Aspen’s other scorer was senior Abby Mickey, in 18th (1:41.40).
“We’re definitely in the thick of it,” said Aspen head coach Bill Madsen late Thursday night. “Katie, Olivia, and Abby are skiing strong on the alpine side and I was really impressed with the way the nordic girls skied this morning. [Nordic coach] Travis [Moore] does an amazing job with the nordic skiers and, really, it’s a testament to how he’s running that side of the program.”Battle Mountain’s Jenny Banner had the fastest combined time in the slalom, winning in 1:24.10. Teammate Kelly VanHee was second (1:26.60) and Summit’s Erin Breslin (1:28.60) earned the bronze.Sophomore James Britvar had the best result of the day for Aspen’s boys, taking fourth in the night slalom in 1:20.00. Aspen’s next two finishers failed to crack the top 15, however, leaving the Skiers in sixth place in the alpine team standings.Freshman Luke Hemming was 19th (1:29.60) and senior Doug Schuster was 37th (1:38.90).Summit’s Zach Fretz won with a searing 1:17.70 and Nederland’s Jason Gawf (1:19.30) and Steamboat Springs’ Kris Allen (1:20.00) rounded out the podium.Junior Bryce Gordon was Aspen’s top finisher in the boy’s skate race, skiing to ninth in 14:31. Junior Ben Armstrong was 11th (14:35) and junior Whit Parker was 18th (15:15).Aspen’s best male nordic skier, junior Scott Lacy, is unavailable to compete at the state championships because he failed to compete in the mandatory number of qualifying races this season.
Lacy missed high school races because of his selection to the United States’ junior team which competed at the Scandinavia Cup in Estonia earlier this month.Madsen wasn’t making any excuses Thursday night.”We definitely have some ground to make up there,” he said of his boys team. “I was really proud of the way James skied. He was only two hundredths of a second out of third. … One of our guys, Jonathan Woodrow, went out, which hurt us a bit, unfortunately. Thankfully Doug came in and scored some points for us.”With limited numbers, Madsen said one of the biggest points of emphasis in today’s GS – especially for the Aspen girls – will be finishing. One missed gate could be the difference between a team title and not even finishing on the podium.”They know what they need to do,” Madsen said. “They’re focused.”email@example.com.
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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.