Steamboat skier Amber Elliott leads Sailor girls to 4th-place finish at state |

Steamboat skier Amber Elliott leads Sailor girls to 4th-place finish at state

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Amber Elliott saved her best race for last, finishing second in Friday’s slalom race at the Colorado State Skiing Championships at Ski Cooper on the final day of racing.

"Being on this team has been such a fun experience,” said Elliott, a Steamboat Springs High School senior. “I will definitely remember my team. I didn't do team sports when I was younger, so this was my first set-in-stone team, and my teammates have been really encouraging and awesome in helping me through the whole season.”

Elliott was also late to join the high school ski team this winter.

"I had thought that I was done with ski racing coming into this season, and I wanted to spend more time on my internship at the (Steamboat) Vet Clinic and focus on that," Elliott said.

But at Christmas time, she realized she still wanted to ski and called Steamboat Springs High School Alpine coach Mike Farny to see if she could be a part of the team. He agreed, and Elliott was back on skis shortly after the holidays and able to compete in several slalom races. 

“She had hip surgery and had only skied 15 or 20 times this year prior to that race,” Farny said. “She was always a little tentative, and so it was a surprise to her, and to us, that she performed as well as she did.”

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The state skiing championships will most likely be the final competitive race for Elliott, who grew up competing in USSA- and FIS-level events. 

"I'm planning on going into veterinarian medicine, which is going to be a long and challenging road,” said Elliott, who will be attending college at Colorado State University in Fort Collins this fall.

She is also one of about 100 students who were accepted into the CSU bio-medical science program.

"I'm not sure to be honest," Elliott said of skiing in college. "They have a club team, so I am hoping that I can make it work. I want to do something like I did this year where school will be my main priority, but skiing is just so fun. It has been such a huge part of my life, and I don't want to give up on it yet."

Steamboat girls results at state

Elliott's second-place helped propelled the Steamboat girls team to fourth place overall with 533 points, just seven points shy of the podium, despite missing two of the team’s top Nordic skiers. 

Aspen won the girls title with solid finishes on both the Alpine and Nordic sides. Aspen tallied 650.5 points during the championships, which were held Thursday and Friday at Ski Cooper and the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center. Battle Mountain was second at 581 points, and Vail Mountain was third at 540.

Team scores are a combination of the top three finishers in the slalom, giant slalom and the Nordic classic and freestyle events.

In slalom, Elliott led the Sailors with a time of 1 minute, 12.89 seconds just behind the winner, Emily Creek, who finished with a time of 1:11.65. Steamboat seniors Olivia Flake and Ashley Spiegel finished fifth and 23rd respectively with times of 1:13.98 and 1:19.03. Ella Pietras was 30th with a time of 1:20.33, Annmarie Hackworthy was 37th in 1:22.62, and Sophia Gowdy was 48th in 1:25.23.

On the Nordic side, Steamboat's Winter Boese led the Sailors in Friday's 5-kilometer freestyle race with a time of 17 minutes, 44 seconds for fifth. Her teammate Maggi Congdon placed 29th at 20:36.

Steamboat boys results

The Sailors didn't threaten the top teams for a state title this year, but the future looks bright for the boys team, which raced to fifth place.

On the Alpine side, freshman Alden Wade led the team in the slalom where he finished ninth with a time of 1:12.98. Fellow freshman Kai Scott raced to 13th with a time of 1:1456, and Sam Clyncke, a sophomore at Soroco High School who skis for Steamboat, rounded out the Sailors, scoring with a 40th-place showing at 1:22.19.

“It was the best that they have skied the whole year,” Farny said of his young Alpine boys team. “They were really pumped coming out, and that just creates momentum going forward.”

In the 5K Nordic freestyle race, freshman Wyatt Mortenson placed 17th at 16:13, sophomore Chase Waynand was 22nd at 16:41, and freshman Jameson Tracy was 24th at 16:74. Tracy also finished fifth in the 5K classic race.

“I was really happy with that because it’s a really tough course, and there was really tough competition,” Mortenson said. “I’m really looking forward to next year. A lot of my teammates are sophomores who are also ranked pretty high, so I think we will be a pretty strong team in the next couple of years. So I’m really psyched.”

Other Steamboat skiers competing in the 5K classic race included sophomore Gabe Rabenal in 32nd at 17:13, senior Matai Curzon in 39th at 17:28, sophomore Mitch Meissner in 44th at 17:35, sophomore Quinn Wellman in 47th at 17:38 and senior Tanner Richard in 49th at 17:44.

“I could not be prouder of how our team handled easily the toughest course we’ve raced on this season,” Steamboat Springs High School Nordic coach Jesse Wilkins said. “The course featured a 400-foot, nearly relentless climb for about 3 kilometers that topped out at approximately 10,800 feet of elevation.”

Wilkins said he was also encouraged by his team’s showing in the overall team results, which are calculated throughout the course of the season. The Steamboat boys finished second in the classic standings for the season and third in the freestyle standings. The girls were the top-ranked team in freestyle and third in classic.

“This season, I think we continued to build on last year’s momentum, and we’ve got a ton of momentum going into next season,” Wilkins said.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.