‘More than just a sport’: Steamboat seniors enjoy last Alpine race at Howelsen
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Every year, the Steamboat Springs High School Alpine ski team looks forward to its home slalom event and not just because they have a home-course advantage of some sort. Really it’s the atmosphere at Howelsen Hill that makes the event special, particularly for the seniors.
Ahead of the second runs, all seniors gathered halfway up the hill. Separated by team, small groups of seniors skied down the mountain through a corridor of people and into the finish area as a celebration of their final season.
Sam Clyncke, a senior at Soroco High School, made the most of his final race on Howelsen, posting the 15th fastest time over the first run. That allowed him to be the first one down the course for the second run. He finished the day in 12th.
“It’s the best finish I’ve ever had in slalom,” said Clyncke, who started the discipline his sophomore year. “I was really impressed with how I did. I came into this with a good mentality, like it was my best chance to make the top 15. I was super psyched to know I just made that cut.”
Clyncke said the fact that he knew it was his final chance to race at home made him step it up and earn his best results of the season.
“I really wanted to push myself as hard as I could,” he said. “I feel like I’ve worked really hard to get to this point.”
As the racers fly down the mountain, a Steamboat team member commentates over the loudspeaker, spewing fun facts, encouragement and the occasional joke. As the racers swerve through the final gates, the cheers and the sounds of the loudspeaker hit them. Having family members and teammates and classmates at the base just adds to the atmosphere that makes the Howelsen race the Sailors resounding favorite.
“Ever since I started doing the high school ski team, it’s more than just a sport,” Clyncke said. “It’s being a part of a family.”
While it was Clyncke’s final competition at home, it was the first time freshman Taylor Connelly raced at Howelsen. The Sailors freshman just started racing this year and loves the laidback feeling of the squad.
“Everyone is super welcoming — seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen —everyone is one big family,” added freshman Allie Van Ness. “There’s no separation.”
After a smooth first run, Connelly nearly stumbled on her second run but still made the next gate to record a final time and finish 58th.
Freshman Allie VanNess found herself in a similar situation on her first run, crashing before the finish but pulling herself back up in time to get around the next gate and finish. After her second run, VanNess took 42nd.
Steamboat senior Alex Blair won the day with a combined time of one minute, 27.09 seconds, as Sailors Emily Schneider, Ella Pietras, Annika Ort and Eliza Fox all finished in the top 10.
The Sailors agreed that Howelsen is one of the steeper and more difficult courses they encounter, but training on the face a few times a week undoubtedly gave them an advantage Friday.
“We know where all the icy parts are and the harder parts are,” Connelly said. “So, we knew to prepare for that more.”
Top 10: 1. Alex Blair, SS, 1:27.09. 2. Berit Frischholz, BM, 1:27.33. 3. Stella Sherlock, A, 1:27.65. 4. Samantha Edelman, A, 1:27.72. 5. Emily Schneider, SS, 1:29.98. 6. Ella Pietras, SS, 1:30.41. 7. Annika Ort, SS, 1:30.44. 8, Kalley Murphy, A, 1:31.29. 9. Edie Sherlock, A, 1:31.55. 10. Eliza Fox, SS, 1:31.91.
Steamboat finishers: 17. Annemarie Hackworthy 1:34.08. 25. Audra Gowdy 1:39.25. 39. Margrot Schmitz 1:47.2. 40. Nora Pietras 1:47.82. 42. Allie VanNess 1:48.17. 43. Caroline Bauer 1:49.83. 53. Kaya Fowler 1:58.68. 58. Taylor Connelly 2:03.05. 59. Greta Schmitz 2:03.72. 63. Ari Sharman 2:05.88. 64. Katrina Sharman 2:06.17. 66. Rebecca Bonebrake 2:08.46. 68. Allie Keefe 2:09.23.
Top 3: 1. Davis Colon, A, 1:20.67. 2. Jake Morgan, A, 1:22.87. 3. Tyler Thomas, A, 1:23.06.
Steamboat finishers: 11. Sam Clyncke 1:31.69. 15. Dawson Holmes 1:32.74. 18. Fisher St. John 1:34.42. 25. Finn Dresen 1:39.16. 27. Luke St. John 1:40.01. 28. Thomas Niedermeier 1:40.34. 34. Stephan Grubowski 1:43.3. 36. Benton Sherman 1:45.17. 38. Brodie Skinner 1:47.13. 40. Kyle Nilsson 1:49.76. 41. Pete Wichelhaus 1:51.69. 45. Joey Berlet 1:52.41. 48. Chase Weynand 1:55.7. 51. Dylan Dietrich 2:11.11.
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