Late snow hasn’t set Sailors Nordic team back at all

Steamboat Springs High School Nordic skier Annie Hager finishes fourth at a home race at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center in February 2021.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

Snow arrived in Colorado a little later than usual, setting back the ski season, vacations and practice for the Steamboat Springs High School Nordic ski team.

Thankfully, they are in the same position as everyone across the state, so they haven’t fallen behind due to the lack of precipitation. In fact, they might actually be a little ahead of everyone else.

The team has had access to Bruce’s Trail, a cross-country ski trail on Rabbit Ears Pass, so they’ve been taking advantage of the groomed trails every weekend.

“If anything, we’re ahead because we have Bruce’s Trail,” said coach Jesse Wilkins. “I’ve already seen Poudre Canyon and Leadville have both had their teams come over here to practice. Nobody else is skiing. We are.”

When they haven’t been skiing, the Sailors have been doing a lot of running to improve their cardio endurance. They’ve also done a lot of weight lifting, more than they normally do, according to Wilkins.

“If anything, this lack of snow, I could see it being a good thing for us,” he said.

The routine of dryland workouts during the week and loops on Bruce’s Trail has already gotten stale for some athletes.

“Going up on Bruce’s every weekend is kind of boring,” said senior Rush Rusher. “Having another place to go would be nice.”

Hager said it’s been beneficial, since the team has been able to spend more time in the gym building strength.

“The only downfall to that is our technique is just not there for skating and classic,” Hager said.

Rusher is one of just six skiers on the boys team and the only senior. The girls team, on the other hand, is still large and pretty deep with talent.

Seniors Annie Hager and Catcher Weynand are a pair of four-year skiers leading the squad.

Weynand hopes the team not only performs better than in previous years but is even closer than in previous years and values teamwork.

Both Hager and Weynand said they want to be supportive of the younger and less experienced skiers on the team.

Steamboat Springs High School Nordic skier Caroline Bauer finished fifth at a home race at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center in February 2021.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

The team has many newcomers who would benefit from on-snow training to get the feel of skate and classic skiing down. Because of that, their first race might be a bit shaky, but it’ll be a valuable learning experience.

Thankfully, there are more races this year in comparison to last year’s shortened season, so a rough first race isn’t the end of the world. The newbies and seasoned skiers have plenty of time to improve and take a shot at qualifying for state.

The season is slated to begin Friday, Dec. 17, at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby.

Steamboat hosts three home races this year at the Steamboat Touring Center, the first Jan. 14 as part of the Tour de Northern Colorado, which Steamboat co-created last year when travel was limited.

Steamboat also has home races Feb. 12 and Feb. 26. Additionally, Howelsen Hill Ski Area will host the Ski Meister Championships, in which skiers compete in all four Alpine and Nordic disciplines in a matter of hours, on March 1.

“We will benefit greatly from racing in Steamboat,” Weynand said. “We know the trails so well. Even if we haven’t skied a lot this year, or pretty much at all, it’s still muscle memory.”

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