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Steamboat high school ski teams larger than ever

Steamboat Springs High School skier Wyatt Mortenson makes his way towards the finish in the individual start skate race on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center.
Leah Vann

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs High School Nordic team has long produced a girls team stronger than the boys. After a handful of strong senior girls graduated, the 2020 season could be the one in which the Sailor boys shine.

Seniors Mitch Meissner, Gabe Rabanal and Chase Weynand will lead the largest team that head coach Jessie Wilkins has seen in a while, with about 35 athletes. 

“They’ve made it to state every year they’ve skied with us,” Wilkins said. “We got a batch of juniors also. Wyatt Mortenson has been all-state the last couple years; he’ll be coming back.”

Meissner and Weynand are already looking forward to state, which is in Minturn in late February. 

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“I want to try to get top 20 consistently,” Rabanal said. “Last year, I was top 25, so I’m hopeful, but we’ll see.” 

Meissner said the early-season snow has set the team up for success as they got to practice on Bruce’s Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass.

“That was definitely beneficial to get our feet back under us after coming off the summer,” Meissner said. 

Steamboat Springs Nordic Skiing schedule
  • Jan. 11: Spring Gulch in Carbondale
  • Jan. 25: Colorado Mountain College in Leadville
  • Feb. 1: Snow Mountain Ranch
  • Feb. 8: Aspen High School
  • Feb. 15: Steamboat Springs Touring Center
  • Feb. 27-8: Maloit Park in Minturn

There are also many new skiers joining the team as well, including a few cross country runners looking to have a go at the winter equivalent of their sport. 

“We got some new faces that I think are going to be fast,” Wilkins said. 

As for the girls, they lost All-State skier Winter Boese but return senior Maggi Congdon. 

“We graduated a bunch of fast girls,” Wilkins said. “A couple girls graduated and one of our girls is doing a year abroad in Germany, so we’re a little rebuilding on that side, other than Maggi.”

Catcher Weynand, Margaret Redfern and Anne Hager are also returning state qualifiers.

In order to qualify for state, skiers must participate in two races for each discipline, and in one of those, finish in the top 45%. 

The season commences Saturday, Jan. 11, when the team competes at Spring Gulch in Carbondale. The Sailors will compete at home at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center on Feb. 15.

Alpine athletes excited for home race

Like the Nordic team, the Steamboat Springs High School Alpine team is bigger than ever before. 

Head coach Mike Farny has appointed a group of upperclassmen to captain the squad, filled with plenty of veteran downhill skiers, including Kai Scott. The junior, originally from Winter Park, has skied with the team for three years but didn’t want to join the high school team at first.

“My mom forced me to, and it’s the best thing she’s ever done,” he said. 

Steamboat Springs Alpine Skiing schedule
  • Jan. 11
  • Jan. 17: Beaver Creek
  • Jan. 20: Winter Park
  • Jan. 24: Copper Mountain
  • Jan. 31: Steamboat Ski Area
  • Feb. 6: Aspen
  • Feb. 14: Loveland
  • Feb. 27-28: Beaver Creek

Junior Luke St. John was in a similar position, starting in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s jumping program before his parents told him to find a new discipline.

Now, both Scott and St. John are returning to the team as state qualifiers, among many others.

Senior Annmarie Hackworthy took 20th at state last year in giant slalom, while Scott was the top Steamboat finisher in giant slalom, taking 31st.

“Unpopular opinion, I prefer GS, because it’s so fast,” Hackworthy said. “Slalom is a lot more movement, but GS, you’re going.”

The squad will start the season Saturday, Jan. 11, and spend four consecutive weekends on the road before coming home to Howelsen Hill on Jan. 31, a date everyone seems to have circled on their calendars.

“There’s nothing like Howelsen,” said senior Arianwen Sharman. “There’s no hill like it. I’ve skied in the midwest, I’ve skied around Colorado and there’s nothing like Howelsen.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.


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