Night race kicks off Classic |

Night race kicks off Classic

DU racer Claire Abbe places atop the field in 1st event at Howelsen

Joel Reichenberger
Anna Marno makes a cut through a gate Sunday during her second run at the Holiday Classic women's slalom race at Howelsen Hill. Marno was the top local finisher on the first day of the three-day slalom skiing event. Action resumes at Howelsen at 8:30 a.m. today when the women go again. The men will start their competition today at 4:45 p.m.
Joel Reichenberger

If you go

The FIS Holiday Classic resumes today and runs through Tuesday at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat.

- Today

Women's slalom, 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Men's slalom, 4:45 p.m. and 7 p.m.

- Tuesday

Men's slalom, 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Notable results

1. Claire Abbe, University of Denver, 1:22.32

2. Julia Littman, U.S. Ski Team, 1:23.77

2. Lisa Perricone, University of Colorado, 1:23.77

9. Anna Marno, Steamboat, 1:26.18

16. Emily Sackett, Steamboat, 1:28.04

17. Maria Hillenbrand, Steamboat, 1:28.98

28. Chrissy Ford, Steamboat, 1:32.07

30. Sarah White, Steamboat, 1:32.69

40. Kersten Scherer, Steamboat 1:36.59

41. Natalie Pearl, Steamboat, 1:36.76

44. Virginia Grace Whelihan, Steamboat, 1:37.62

45. Hannah Young, Steamboat, 1:37.76

48. Cassady Daley, Steamboat, 1:39.66

53. Jamie Gay, Steamboat, 1:42.15

57. Ciar Colgan, Steamboat, 1:45.29

67. Linnea Dixson, Steamboat, 1:56.18

— Claire Abbe says there’s really nothing too different about racing at night.

She should know. She grew up training at night in Minnesota and put those skills to good work Sunday, winning the first race of the Steamboat FIS Holiday Classic at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs.

“I grew up training at night, so I was in my element. For some of the girls, I think it’s a little different, but I like it,” said Abbe, now racing for the University of Denver. “I felt pretty good about both of my runs. I just tried to ski solid and put two runs together.”

Abbe led the race wire to wire, setting the course afire with her first run, a 40.49-second blitz that set her into first place. She then backed that up by recording the fastest time of the second run, as well, finishing in 41.83 seconds.

It all amounted to a 1.5-second victory in the massive 86-skier field.

“I was pretty confident coming into today,” she said. “I’ve been skiing pretty well, but the competition is very good here. There are a lot of tough girls racing.”

Abbe finished just ahead of Julia Littman of the U.S. Ski Team and Steamboat Springs’ Lisa Perricone, who tied for second while racing for the University of Colorado.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club speedster Anna Marno was the top local finisher after Perricone. She was 14th after her first run, but logged the eighth-fastest time in the second run to earn a ninth-place overall finish.

“It was a good course,” Marno said. “Both of my runs were solid. I’m one of the younger ones here, so I’m happy.”

Emily Sackett and Maria Hillebrand, both of Steamboat, were 16th and 17th, respectively.

Both courses proved difficult top to bottom, but the second run took a particularly high number of casualties close to the finish. A series of tight gates strung together on the flat ground just a few yards from the finish line forced a string of the event’s top skiers to wipe out.

“As it went onto the flat it straightened out, so you carried a lot of speed into it,” Marno said. “Then there was a quick combination, so it was fast into a tight spot. My coach told me it was a tough spot, so I prepared for it as I went into it.”

Other sections of the course also took a toll. Steamboat favorite Jenny Allen, now skiing for the University of Colorado, was in fourth place after the first run. She lost her way at the top of the course on the second trip down, however, and did not finish.

Steamboat racer Cassady Roberts also lost a chance to place high after she couldn’t finish after recording the 20th-fastest time on the first run.

“This isn’t an easy hill. This is a world-class hill,” said Deb Armstrong, one of the event’s coordinators. “The courses are tough, but that’s to be expected. From a race standpoint, all went as planned and it was good.”

Racing resumes in the three-day event today at 8:30 a.m. when the women return to the hill. Their second run will be at 10:30. The men get their first crack at Howelsen starting at 4:45 p.m., then wrap up the day’s action at 7 p.m. with their final run.

Racing Tuesday also starts at 8:30 a.m.

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