Steamboat cross country athlete wins two golds on home course

SSWSC U20 cross country skier Trey Jones ascends the hill behind the rodeo arena during a Rocky Mountain Nordic Junior Qualifier race in Steamboat Springs on Saturday, Feb.4, 2023.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club U20 skier Trey Jones did not have the start to the cross country ski season he hoped, but first-place finishes on his hometown course this weekend let him know he was back on the right track.

Jones narrowly missed a spot to compete for Team U.S.A. at the Junior World Ski Championships in Whistler, Canada, which made him search for new ways to improve his craft. 

“I didn’t have the best start to my season so I was pretty bummed and I went back to my coaches and we came up with a plan to execute the next couple months,” Jones said. “We came up with a good training plan and a few modifications for it, and it’s been working from there on.”

The new training plan includes a focus on distance training as well as skinning in the mountains at a higher volume and doing some backcountry ski work as well. 

The change worked for Jones, who has started feeling better with his results since competing at the U.S. Cross Country Ski National Championships in Michigan at the start of the new year. Beyond the strong results, Jones says he began feeling stronger and his skiing started to flow better.

“He’s done everything he can to have great races since then and there’s still great opportunities ahead,” said SSWSC cross country coach Josh Smullin. “That’s part of being an athlete, being able to adapt and making the most of every piece of adversity or situation you find yourself in.” 

Jones won both U20 races at Soldier Hollow two weekends ago and kept the streak alive with two more U20 victories at the Rocky Mountain Division Junior National Championship qualifying races in Steamboat Springs on Friday and Saturday. 

SSWSC U20 skier Trey Jones pushes up an early ascent in the men’s 10-kilometer cross country ski race in Steamboat Springs on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Friday’s race was a 20-kilometer mass start where Jones came in 13th overall, behind professional and collegiate athletes. He followed that with a 10th-place finish in Saturday’s 10-kilometer individual start race, taking home gold for the U20 category both days. 

“It’s super nice to be home,” Jones said. “It’s nice to sleep in my own bed before a race. It’s definitely one of the harder courses we do all year, a lot of climbing. It’s constant work, there’s not a single point on the course where you can rest to go fast, so it’s a hard course but super fun to ski almost every day.”

SSWSC U20 skier Trey Jones stands on the top step of the podium after taking U20 gold in the 10-kilometer cross country ski race in Steamboat Springs on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat PIlot & Today

Jones said being home helped him rejuvenate and mentally prepare for the final few weeks before Junior Nationals in Anchorage, Alaska, where he hopes to close out the season strong. 

Jones had two second-place finishes at Junior Nationals last year and Smullin says he has a strong history of good performances in that competition. He imagines more of the same for Jones this year. 

Prior to his trip to Alaska, Jones will compete in Vail next weekend and then Aspen for another Junior National Qualifying race. He hopes to use those races as a means to prepare for Junior Nationals in March. 

“The goal is really looking at Junior Nationals and to perform well there,” Jones said. “I want to go in well prepared and put up strong results there. That’s the goal for the rest of the season.”

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