Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers post top results in Soldier Hollow
Editor’s note: The final part of the story was omitted. Results have been updated
Soldier Hollow played host to the West’s largest junior cross country competition, the Super Junior National Qualifier last weekend.
This year the event drew 741 competitors age 7 to 20 for two days of racing at the site of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. It was the most important race of the year for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s junior athletes younger than 14, and also a big event for the club’s older athletes who are hoping to improve their position for the end-of-season stretch.
“To find top form for this two-day event, athletes need careful planning and elevated mental focus to increase their level of performance,” coach Brian Tate said. “Many of our athletes were able to race at a level beyond their historical best.”
The events opened up Jan. 30 with a 1.3-kilometer sprint event. The older athletes (15 and up) raced in a qualifying heat and then had to advance through heats of six. Athletes younger than 14 just competed in the qualifying heat.
Saturday’s competition was a mass start classic with racers competing on a 1-kilometer, 3-kilometer, 5-kilometer, 10-kilometer and 15-kilometer courses depending on age.
Steamboat Springs’ racer Noel Keeffe topped the local results by winning the U16 age class, which included 120 competitors, both days.
“They were great finishes,” Keeffe said. “Soldier Hollow is some of the biggest races of the season.”
Keeffe got off to a fast start last weekend with a simple strategy in the sprint events: go out hard and then hold off the field. He was sitting in the top spot after the qualification. In the finals, he faced a tough field that included last year’s Junior National Champion in the sprint event.
“I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to got out fast and out run these guys,” Keeffe said. “So I slowed things down and waited for my chance.”
That chance came on one of the final climbs before the finish. The top racer stumbled going up a hill, and Keeffe was able to slide by him. Once Keeffe got the gap, he went hard and was able to hold on by two or three ski lengths at the finish line.
“I had high hopes going into the races,” Keeffe said. “But I wasn’t expecting to win the race.”
The next day, Keeffe returned to the Soldier Hollow course and skied to his second-straight win.
If the Super National Junior Qualifier was any indication, it looks like Steamboat is sitting pretty well.
Lars Hannah topped the 15-kilometer classic Saturday for the U18/U20 boys and was seventh in Friday’s sprint. Simon Zink had a career-best fourth place in the U18/U20 classic race and was the first U16 racer to cross the finish line. Tyler Terranova also recorded a personal best, placing second in the U16, 5-kilometer classic race. Wyatt Gebhardt was fourth in that same race, and Jimmy Colfer finished 12th. Wally Magill had two solid races with an eighth in the sprint and seventh in the classic for the U14 division. Teammate Grey Barbier was third in both races in the U10 division.
The Steamboat girls were led by Jordi Floyd who skied to first-place finish in the 10-kilometer classic race in the U18 division. She was second overall in that race and was eighth in the sprint race.
The Steamboat girls were led by Jordi Floyd who skied to first-place finish in the 10-kilometer classic race in the U18 division. She was second overall in that race, and was eighth in the sprint race. On Tuesday, however, she thanked her coaches for picking out the right wax for the races.
“We had really fast skis last weekend,” Floyd said. “Our coaches always do a really good job with the wax on our skis, but this weekend they were really fast.”
Floyd said she got some good news from her teammates on the boy’s U16 team before the start of her race. It was great because Noel, Tyler and Wyatt all had really good races, and told her that the skis were fast.
“Our coaches did a really good job with the wax, which was a huge advantage,” Floyd said.
The race included a loop around the sprint course and then two laps around a 4-kilometer course at Soldier Hollow. Headed into the second 4-kilometer lap, Floyd was with a group of four or five skiers leading the race. She was able to pass a couple of them headed up a long gradual climb, and then put the hammer down en route to the finish line and a second-place overall finish — first in her age group.
Avery Harrington skied consistently well both days capturing third in the 1.3-kilometer sprint event Friday, and second in the 3-kilometer classic Saturday. Her teammate Waverly Gebhardt was 10th in the sprint event, and third in the classic. Reilly Mewborn had an excellent weekend placing sixth in the sprint and seventh in the classic in the U14 division. Her teammate Anna Terranova had some of her best results with a 18th in the sprint, and a eighth in the classic.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966
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