Sailors Nordic ski team conditioned for state appearances
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs High School Nordic ski team was busy taking laps on the rodeo grounds Wednesday afternoon.
The Sailors, which head to their first meet on Saturday, Jan. 12, in Carbondale, were training in groups of five to six skiers, and the drill encouraged the groups to ski at a slower pace in a straight line, where the last skier had to sprint to the front of the line along the loop, which is carved for an NCAA Nordic ski race Sunday.
“That’s a good drill for them because they’re going to need to be passing people on Saturday,” Steamboat Springs head Nordic ski coach Jesse Wilkins said. “Because they have a mass start race, they need to get comfortable skiing close to each other.”
The team has been training since October, but more consistently on snow since Thanksgiving. As an endurance sport that requires a lot of upper-body strength, dry-land training focused on running, weightlifting and yoga.
“I want a lot of double poling, that’s our goal for classic races this year,” Wilkins said. “It’s faster, but it requires a little more upper body strength. That’s something we’ve worked on a lot this year, and everybody’s got a little longer poles than you typically have for classic skiing, which makes it easier to double pole.”
Double poling involves the skier stroking the ground with both poles simultaneously — it’s a faster, more difficult way to ski. But Wilkins believes his team of experienced skiers will have better chances at qualifying more athletes for state if they master the technique.
The team has 26 members this year, including 13 boys and 13 girls.
The boys return all-state skiers Wyatt Mortenson, a sophomore, and Quinn Wellman, a senior. Wellman has made the trip to state three times but never placed in the top 25.
“It’ll take a lot, definitely a lot of practice,” Wellman said. “It’s my senior season; it’s a last hoorah. I’m just enjoying my last year and trying to see what I can do.”
Senior Winter Boese is a returning all-state skier on the girls’ side. She hopes to earn honors in both classic and skate skiing after losing her ski in the state classic race last year.
As an aspiring ski meister, Boese will be in Aspen on Friday for an Alpine race and Carbondale on Saturday for a Nordic ski team competition.
Boese gave up hockey this year to focus on both ski disciplines, but she tends to gravitate toward endurance sports because of their sense of accomplishment. This past fall, Boese was a state-cross country runner.
“I like just going for a while, and there’s nothing than finishing a 5K race, skiing or running — and knowing you gave it your all and you’re tired for the rest of the day,” Boese said.
As a senior, she’s a leader on the Nordic team and she knows how to navigate the pre-race nerves.
“Nordic is pretty nerve wracking — we were all just talking about how we are nervous for the race,” Boese said. “The younger girls get nervous pretty easily. We talk about how it’s going to be OK and life goes on no matter what happens.”
As the Sailors approach their first race, Wilkins believes that after three months of heavy conditioning, they’ll be ready.
“We know how to ski, we’re in shape,” Wilkins said. “Now just have to see how we stack up against other people in the state.”
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