High school skiers flock to Steamboat Springs for state championships | SteamboatToday.com

High school skiers flock to Steamboat Springs for state championships

Steamboat Springs High School skier Alessandra Peliari cuts down a course at Beaver Creek earlier this month during a high school skiing race. Peliari is among the Sailors who will hit the snow for the state skiing championships this week in Steamboat Springs.

— The best high school ski racers in the state — more than 350 athletes — will converge on Steamboat Springs beginning Wednesday afternoon hoping to earn team points, top individual finishes, and for one lucky team, the title of Colorado State High School Skiing Champion.

"I've never been to state; this is my first year,” said Steamboat Springs High School freshman Ella Pietras, who will be competing in the Alpine events. "I'm hoping to get top 20, but mostly, I'm planning on having fun. Most of my friends qualified, so it should be a good time."

Pietras will be joined in the giant slalom and giant slalom events by teammates Alessandra Peliari, a senior, Amy Speer, a junior, and AnnMarie Hackworthy, a freshman. Lilly Van Ness also qualified to ski in the slalom.

There will also be five members of the Sailors boys team on the courses this week. State qualifiers include Andrew McCawley, a senior who has a good chance of winning this Year's Ski Meister award that goes to the best combined skier in both Alpine and Nordic. He will be joined by Alex Coffey and Wyatt Reynolds, who are also competing on both the Alpine and Nordic sides, as well as Ryan Kelly and Nolan Sankey, who will focus on Alpine events.

Steamboat skiers who will compete in the freestyle race include McCawley, James Bradley, Gabe Rabenal, Mitch Meissner, Quinn Wellman, Matai Curzon, Tanner Richard, Eric Phalen, Dane Freckleton and Coffey. All of those skiers plus Liam Hahn will also compete in the classic race.

The women's Nordic team will include Jenny Adler, Annika Malacinski, Shilo Lottes, Claire Traverse, Loren Requist and Aubrey Rohde, all competing in the freestyle race. Alder, Malacinski and Traverse will also ski in the classic race.

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"We had 24 skiers on the team, and we have 18 skiing at state and that's very good, To tell you the truth, I was a little surprised to have that many going,” Nordic coachJesse Wilkins said. "Our biggest goal is to have the best races of the season this week. That's what we geared the whole season to … Our hope is to peak at state."

Alpine coach Mike Farny echoes the Nordic team's goals. This will be the first time the two teams have competed at the same event, and he expects a high-energy, festive atmosphere. He also thinks the home hill will provide a competitive edge for the local skiers.

The Nordic and Alpine teams are scored as one with titles being awarded in both the girls and boys division.

The Colorado State High School Skiing Championships will begin Thursday on the All Out trail at Steamboat Ski Area. The Alpine races will begin with the men’s first run at 9 a.m. followed by the men's second run at 11 a.m. The women will step into the starting gates at noon for the women's first run and at 1:30 p.m. for the second run.

The first Nordic race of the week will take place at 3:30 p.m. Thursday as the men compete in the freestyle race at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center. The women will take the course at 4:10 p.m. for the final event of the day.

The state competition resumes at 9 a.m. Friday with the first run of the women's Alpine slalom race at Howelsen Hill, which will be followed immediately by the men's first run. The women are scheduled to return at noon for the second run, and then at 1 p.m., the men will step into the starting gate for the final Alpine race of the weekend.

The Nordic skiers will cap things off at 3 p.m. when the women head out on course for the classic race, which will start and finish inside the Howelsen Hill Rodeo grounds. At 3:30 p.m. the men will have their shot in the final race of the state championships.

An awards ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Springs High School.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966