More Steamboat skiers than ever prepare for state championships
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs High School ski teams have switched strengths.
In recent years, the Nordic girls team has been stronger than the boys, while the boys Alpine team has performed better than the girls. In 2020, it’s just the opposite.
Heading into the state tournament, the Sailors boys Nordic team is ranked No. 1, while the Alpine ladies could potentially get three athletes in the top 10 for a podium finish at the skiing state championships at Vail starting on Thursday, Feb. 27.
In the Nordic races, all eyes will be on Sumner Cotton. The Steamboat junior goes into the state championships ranked No. 1 in both the skate and classic disciplines and could come back to Steamboat with an individual title in each.
“I always knew Sumner was really good at Nordic skiing, but as soon as I came in this year, it’s been awesome to watch him just destroy and have fun,” said first-year Nordic skier and junior Jaydon Fryer. “He has given so much advice, like maybe try pushing or pulling a little harder, gliding a little farther. It’s been an awesome experience.”
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Junior Wyatt Mortenson, who is the second-best skier in the state in both disciplines, should follow right behind Cotton.
The Sailors’ third-placer and point-earner has changed a few times throughout the season but has recently been earned by Fryer, who is trying the sport for the first time after running his first-ever cross country season alongside Cotton. Fryer will head into his inaugural state experience just looking to do his best and not setting high expectations for himself.
Thursday, Feb. 27
Giant Slalom at Beaver Creek
9:30 a.m. girls first run
11 a.m. boys first run
1 p.m. girls second run
2:15 p.m. boys second run
Nordic Classic at Maloit Park
3 p.m. girls mass start
3:30 boys mass start
Friday, Feb. 28
Slalom at Beaver Creek
9:30 a.m. girls first run
10:30 a.m. boys first run
12:30 p.m. girls second run
1:30 boys second run
Nordic Skate at Maloit Park
3 p.m. boys individual start
4 p.m. girls individual start
6 p.m. Dinner & Awards at BMHS
“I’m just going to give all I have. Whatever that is on the day that it is, that’s what it’s gonna be,” Fryer said. “I know we have so many guys that are equally strong. We have some good depth on our team.”
Senior Chase Weynand could also be the third Sailor to cross the line.
For his final year, Weynand participated in both Alpine and Nordic events, racing for the Skimeister title. He ended the season in fifth among all the boys competing in both.
Weynand didn’t qualify for either Alpine event, so his weekend in Vail will be focused on skate and classic skiing.
“I’m nervous, but you kind of have to be,” Weynand said. “It’s the biggest race of the year, and it’s probably the most fun race of the year, too. Just get out there and ski. If you’re not nervous, you didn’t train hard enough.”
While the Sailors may be the best boys team, there is no official way for them to win a cross country state title, since the team championship is a combination between Alpine and Nordic results.
“I feel like if there were, we would win it,” Wilkins said. “It’s hard to say if we can get in the top three with Alpine and Nordic, combined.”
Steamboat senior Maggi Congdon will be fighting for a top-10 finish while the girls try to finish strong. Congdon said her confidence is higher than ever after crossing the line in the top five at the home race Feb. 15.
“I think, for a while, I would never go with the front groups because I didn’t think I could keep up with them,” she said. “I think having the confidence that I can will definitely make a difference, for sure.”
The Sailor girls sit in the top five in both disciplines, but a top-three finish, particularly in skate, is not out of the question. Sophomores Catcher Weynand will likely be the next skier behind Congdon, with either Jade Henderson and Anne Hager coming along next to round out the point-earning Sailors.
“Catcher and Annie skied really well last year (as freshmen), and this year, they’re skiing really, really well,” Wilkins said. “It’s probably going to be one of those or maybe both of them that score this year.”
According to head coach Mike Farny, more Sailors Alpine skiers qualified for state than ever before. The Steamboat girls have a solid shot at being one of the top three downhill teams in the state.
Girls: Alex Blair, Ella Pietras, Emily Schneider, Eliza Fox, Annika Ort, Annmarie Hackworthy, Audra Gowdy, Sophia Gowdy, Caroline Baur, Tess Clyncke, Nora Pietras, Olive Subr, Allie VanNess, Margrot Schmitz
Boys: Kai Scott, Alden Wade, Sam Clyncke, Dawson Homes, Erik Sandvik, Benton Sherman, Luke St. John, Fisher St. John, Tomas Niedermeirer, Finn Dresen, Bryce Zetzman, Brodie Skinner, Jaxon Fryer, Kyle Nilsson
Boys: Alex Colby, Sumner Cotton, Xander Dalke, Jaydon Fryer, Caleb Haack, Max Hamilton, Jeremiah Kelley, Mitch Meissner, Noah Mortenson, Wyatt Mortenson, Gabe Rabanal, Alden Wade, Chase Weynand
The ladies are led by senior Alex Blair, who has won two races this year and finished in the top five in the rest.
“(Beaver Creek) is not a great GS hill for her, since it’s got some flats,” Farny said. “She skis steeps better than flats. The slalom, she could definitely win the slalom.”
Ella Pietras, Emily Schneider and Eliza Fox have also been consistent top-10 finishers, especially in slalom, and if they ski their best, the girls could be one of the best teams in the state.
Farny thinks Battle Mountain will be hard to beat, while Aspen and Vail Mountain will be Steamboat’s biggest competition.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “It’s all about time. Little tiny mistakes add up. It seems like there’s a lot of pressure on kids at state.”
The Sailor boys may not have as much depth, but they have a few top performers who, if healthy, could be great at state.
Sam Clynke has regularly earned top-15 finishes behind teammates Kai Scott and Alden Wade. However, Scott and Wade haven’t been 100% at any point this season, according to Farny. If they are feeling even close to 100% this weekend, they will be strong competitors.
“We would need a lot of things to line up to get a podium finish,” Farny said.
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