Four SSWSC Nordic skiers named All-Americans |

Four SSWSC Nordic skiers named All-Americans

Austin Colbert

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic skier Wyatt Gebhardt races his way to third place in the U18 division 10-kilometer freestyle race at the USSA Cross Country Junior Nationals in Cable, Wisconsin, last week.

— National championships are supposed to test athletes, and last week, Mother Nature made sure the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic skiers had done their homework.

At the 2016 USSA Cross Country Junior Nationals in Cable, Wisconsin, balmy weather led to interesting race conditions throughout the week and even forced race officials to alter the schedule in some instances.

"It was a tough week of racing. We were dealing with low snow and really warm temperatures," SSWSC Nordic coach Josh Smullin said. "But, that was the same situation for everyone that was there. It was up to the kids just to deal with the adversity the best they could."

The warmer weather made the snow conditions soft, putting some of the larger, stronger skiers at something of a disadvantage.

"Anyone can have a good race in the conditions," Smullin said.

By the end of the weekend, the Winter Sports Club had placed four of its 14 skiers in All-American status (top 10), with a career best third-place finish from Wyatt Gebhardt in the boys' U18 10-kilometer individual start freestyle race coming in as the best of the bunch.

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Gebhardt, in his first season racing in the U18 division, also took ninth in the boys' 10k interval start classic.

"He was pretty consistent in the distances all week," Smullin said of Gebhardt. "I would say that is really impressive, as he is a first-year U18. So he's the top, returning performer that will be in the same age group next year. It will be exciting to watch what he can do next year."

Simon Zink finished 11th in the U18 boys' 10K interval start classic, missing All-American status by one position. Noel Keeffe was 18th in the same race, and Smullin said he could have easily been in the top 10 in the freestyle race had he been more fortunate.

"He qualified very well, but he got his pole stepped on and broken about 100 meters in," Smullin said. "But he skied himself back into the race. It's a short sprint, and he was able to place third in his heat, but he just missed moving on. … I think he was probably a favorite to be top three that day, or even win."

The other three All-Americans came on the girls' side, led by a pair of top-10 finishes from Kathleen O'Connell. She finished fifth in the 5K interval start classic and sixth in the 5K interval start freestyle. O'Connell was also 11th in the three-person, 1.75K team hill climb, one of the modified events. Her team, which included Aspen's Hailey Swirbul and Vail's Maddie Donovan, earned bronze.

Jordi Floyd had the second-best finish of the week for Steamboat, taking fourth in the U18 girls 1.3K freestyle sprint. She was also 10th in the 5K interval start classic. The fourth All-American was U16 skier Waverly Gebhardt, who took seventh in the girls 5K interval start classic and ninth in the 5K interval start skate.

Steamboat's Jimmy Colfer was part of a threesome with Vail's Cameron Wolfe and Colin Wilson to take bronze in the boys' U16 team hill climb.

Despite the warming trend, the Nordic season isn't quite over for the Steamboat skiers. Next week, Smullin will travel to Craftsbury, Vermont, with Wyatt Gebhardt and Zink for the USSA Super Tour finals and long-distance national championships.

There is also one more local Nordic race, the fourth in the Sven Wiik series, to be held April 3 on Rabbit Ears Pass.

"It's a pretty unique race, because it's so late in the season," Smullin said.

He expects the Rabbit Ears race to draw a few college skiers, as well as numerous club skiers from around the state.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

SSWSC Junior National Results

Interval Start Classic 5/10k Top Results

U16 boys: Sven Tate 26th, John Foster 27th, Jimmy Colfer 30th

U16 girls: Waverly Gebhardt 7th, Avery Harrington 34th

U18 boys: Wyatt Gebhardt 9th, Simon Zink 11th, Noel Keeffe 18th, Evan Barbier 25th, Tyler Terranova 37th, Finn O’Connell 42nd

U18 girls: Kathleen O’Connell 5th, Jordi Floyd 10th, Anna Burkholder 43rd

Interval Start Skate 5/10k Top Results

U16 boys: Jimmy Colfer 17th, Sven Tate 47th, John Foster 62nd

U16 girls: Waverly Gebhardt 9th, Avery Harrington 41st

U18 boys: Wyatt Gebhardt 3rd, Finn O’Connell 13th, Simon Zink 15th, Noel Keeffe 36th, Tyler Terranova 37th, Evan Barbier 55th

U18 girls: Kathleen O’Connell 6th, Jordi Floyd 24th, Anna Burkholder 66th

Freestyle Sprint 1.3k Top Results

U16 boys: Jimmy Colfer 26th, Sven Tate 46th, John Foster 50th

U16 girls: Avery Harrington 16th, Waverly Gebhardt 42nd

U18 boys: Noel Keeffe 13th Wyatt Gebhardt 47th, Tyler Terranova 66th, Finn O’Connell 66th, Simon Zink 67th, Evan Barbier 69th

U18 girls: Jordi Floyd 4th, Kathleen O’Connell 35th, Anna Burkholder 60th

Hill Climb 1.75k Top Results

U16 boys: Jimmy Colfer 15th, Sven Tate 35th, John Foster 48th

U16 girls: Avery Harrington 34th, Waverly Gebhardt 36th

U18 boys: Simon Zink 14th, Noel Keeffe 25th, Wyatt Gebhardt 19th, Tyler Terranova 64th, Finn O’Connell 32nd, Evan Barbier 69th

U18 girls: Kathleen O’Connell 11th, Jordi Floyd 44th, Anna Burkholder 58th

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