Steamboat’s Madden scores thrilling win at Nordic Combined Junior Nationals |

Steamboat’s Madden scores thrilling win at Nordic Combined Junior Nationals

— Who knew a two-horse race could be so thrilling?

Nicholas Madden and Somer Schrock had no one but themselves to use as a push in Thursday’s Nordic Combined Junior Nationals U20 men’s race, but it didn’t matter because the duo put on a show to close out the first day of the championships on a sunny and brisk day at Howelsen Hill.

Schrock — of the Intermountain Division — held a slim lead after the morning jumping portion, but the two were no more than a few ski lengths apart for the entire 5-kilometer cross country race. Madden made his first push into the lead after the first of three laps, but he admits that as close friends, they gladly exchanged the front runner position until the final 100-meter stretch.

“It gets tiring leading, so we were both all for switching off,” Madden said. “He led until he got tired, and I took over for a bit. We worked together.”

The two got tangled up rounding the final turn into Romick Rodeo Arena, but it was Madden that had a bit more gas in the tank, outlasting his Park City Nordic Ski Club counterpart by just one second for the win.

“That was a ton of fun,” said Madden, who completed the course in 12:57. “Somer and I are good friends, and we just went out and had a great time.”

Madden’s win proved to be the only contested Rocky Mountain Division Nordic combined gold on the day. Teammate Esther Rose DelliQuadri was the lone competitor in the U16 women’s class, taking 123.6 jump points into her 3:16.6 time on the 5K cross country course, earning her gold.

Intermountain Division’s Stephen Schumann and Jared Shumate took one and two in the deep and talented U16 men’s Nordic combined class. Steamboat’s Elijah Vargas held off teammate Decker Dean for third in the same class.

Eastern Division’s Gabby Armstrong was the only competitor in the U18 women’s class, and Central Division’s Ben Loomis handily won the U18 men’s Nordic combined competition, taking the day’s best jump score into a stellar 5K ski race for a nearly two-minute win. Steamboat Springs’ Grant Andrews took silver in U18 men’s for the Rocky Mountain Division, and Intermountain’s Tucker Hoefler was third.

The Central Division fared very well in the special jumping morning results. Central’s Cara Larson and Mollie Immens were gold and bronze, respectively, in the U16 women’s class. Steamboat’s Annika Belshaw scored a silver for her Rocky Mountain teammates in U16 women’s.

Local products Dean and Vargas showed very well in the U16 men’s special jumping competition, which featured a very talent-rich pool of athletes. Dean took second, barely edging out Vargas, who was third. Intermountain’s Schumann was the top finisher with 239.2 points.

U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team member and Rocky Mountain Division competitor Logan Sankey unfortunately was a scratch in the U18 women’s special jumping class, where Gabby Armstrong took her 200.4 points for the win and the top podium position.

Central swept the U18 men’s special jumping, with Loomis leading the way, followed by Trevor Edlund and Casey Larson. Central’s Emilee Anderson and Sabina Gasienica were the lone two finishers in the U20 women’s jump, with Anderson’s 198.6 points netting the win.

Schrock edged out Madden in the final jump results by about six points, but the Steamboat native got the final say on the cross country course.

Madden is hoping to keep his legs for Friday’s Nordic combined and special jumping team events, which will kick off at 11 a.m. with first-round jumps. The Nordic combined 2-by-3-kilometer team sprint will begin at 6 p.m., also at Romick Arena.

“I’m looking forward to that team event and hopefully getting another gold for the Rocky Mountain Division,” Madden said.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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