Winter Carnival's Nordic sprint a chance for SSWSC athletes to enjoy lighthearted competition |

Winter Carnival’s Nordic sprint a chance for SSWSC athletes to enjoy lighthearted competition

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes, from left, Norah Graham, Shea Rossi and Ella Wilson race in the annual Winter Carnival’s Nordic sprint Saturday, Feb. 9, on Lincoln Avenue. (Photo by Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — At 8 a.m. Saturday, the crispy sound of cross-country skis carving on the hardened, snowy ground could be heard up and down Lincoln Avenue.

The Nordic sprint was the first of many Street Events at the Winter Carnival, and the frigid 1-degree conditions didn’t stop skiers of all ages from getting out of bed to compete against their friends in the 100-meter sprint.

The Nordic sprint race was first created to find the fastest skier in Steamboat Springs, but now, it’s an iconic fun-filled race for athletes who normally compete at the highest levels in their age groups all over the world.

“We’ve got awesome conditions. It’s hard and fast, and it’s been a tradition at the Winter Carnival for a long time,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic combined director Todd Wilson said early Saturday. “Cross country is traditionally an endurance sport, but we don’t have 10 kilometers on main street, so we narrow it down a little bit.”

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier Wally Magill competes in the annual Winter Carnival’s Nordic sprint Saturday, Feb. 9, on Lincoln Avenue. (Photo by Leah Vann)

Kids from different age groups and genders raced each other, sometimes more than once. Others came for the sprint and disappeared just as quickly to find warmth and breakfast burritos.

A group of four girls in the SSWSC U12 age group raced together, with Shea Rossi coming in first. Ella Wilson and Norah Graham were close behind, and Lucy Capra, although behind all the others at the start, was still a contender for the race’s second or third place by the end.

“It’s really cold, but it’s really fun,” Rossi said.

“I can see my friends, and it’s just so fun,” Wilson added.

The SSWSC U16 group of Cooper Jones, Griffin Rillos and Gunnar Gilbertson were one of the tighter races down the track. Rillos took first, but if the three had raced again, it could’ve gone differently.

“Winter Carnival is just a cool thing to do. It’s worth it to get up and do this,” Jones said. “I’ve been doing this for the past four or five years. We go to major races, and this is just like a fun event that we do.”

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier Cooper Jones starts the Nordic sprint at the Winter Carnival on Saturday, Feb. 9, on Lincoln Avenue. (Photo by Leah Vann)

The lighthearted culture of the race is a culmination of a week filled with fun. Sometimes, there’s a bracket for an ultimate winner, but other years, like Saturday, it’s a free-for-all challenge for kids and adults to race their friends.

“That’s what Winter Carnival is all about,” Wilson said. “It’s a chance to enjoy our heritage and tradition here in Steamboat, and it’s all about fun. We back off training this week and just let kids do the Street Events, the night show and have a good time.”

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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