Steamboat coaches, volunteers work tirelessly to put on state Skimeister championships at Howelsen
To kick off the 2022 State Skimeister Championships, the national anthem played through the loudspeaker as a parent played the song on their phone and held it up to Mike Farny’s headset.
Farny, event organizer and Steamboat Springs High School Alpine coach had planned on playing the anthem through the loudspeaker, but had to improvisew hen there wasn’t an auxiliary cord to connect a phone to the system.
Calling audibles and staying flexible are just a couple things that kept Farny busy during the second annual Skimeister event, held Tuesday, March 1, at Howelsen Hill.
Skimeister is a championship among high school athletes who compete in both Alpine and Nordic competitions. Tuesday consisted of a classic race in the morning, giant slalom and slalom race in the early afternoon, and a skate race to end the day.
Farny was the driving force behind the formation event, which took place at the Colorado High School Activities Association state championships until last year. In 2021, the state championships were harder to qualify for, so most competing in Skimeister didn’t qualify. So Farny proposed a separate event which is now two years into its emancipation. Separating the two has ended up being a great move that’s fostered sportsmanship and the spirit of high school skiing.
“The great thing about this event is it’s not about personal time, it’s about place and it’s about the kids supporting each other,” Farny said. “It’s really a group of kids coming together to celebrate their season. They’ve done both events all winter long. So it culminates here with the championships.”
Farny was the master of ceremonies, running everyone through a welcome and the national anthem while passing out timing chips and explaining how to use them.
He commentated as skiers finished Nordic races and kept people updated on where to go next.
After the classic race, Farny packed up the timing system, the white board with the start list and his backpack and drove from the rodeo grounds to the lodge for Alpine events, where he kept track of timing.
Usually, he has Steamboat athletes and their parents and friends to help him. This year, there were no Sailor competitors. But there was no shortage of people willing to help.
Beth Wilhelm and Dave Gowdy, volunteers extraordinaire, both love what Farny does as a coach and wanted to do everything they could to help, even if their daughter, Audra was only forerunning on the Alpine courses.
“Mike’s amazing, and this is such a fun event we do now,” Wilhelm said. “Mike volunteered to run it and we’re always happy to help him because he’s so great. And it’s so great watching these kids.”
Wilhelm helped with registration and timing and handing out chips and bibs.
“It doesn’t run without bodies,” Gowdy said. “Somebody has to be here to do it, and there’s not a huge pool of people to do it. So, here we are.”
Last year, Betsy Baur helped with the event and had the added bonus of cheering on her daughter in the competition. This year, she was there out of the goodness of her heart, and to help her brother, Farny.
This year, she had the pleasure of managing the starting line for the skate race, sending off each racer individually and wishing them luck. She said that was the highlight of the day.
Sailors Nordic coach Jesse Wilkins started his day communicating with Ben Glassmeyer of the City of Steamboat Springs, about which areas to groom. Then, Wilkins dashed over to Colorado Mountain College, where he teaches chemistry. He returned to Howelsen at the conclusion of his lecture on stoichiometry and limiting reagents to set the classic course and serve as a course marshal. Then he had to leave again for his afternoon chemical kinetics lecture.
He got back to the Nordic trails with plenty of time to prepare the skate course and serve as a marshal during the final race of the day. Later, he planned to conclude a very long day with a lab.
“Both Mike and I thought it was important for the league to have this,” Wilkins said. “And we were hoping to get more of our kids to do it.”
After the conclusion of the skate race, the fourth of the day, Farny, along with the athletes, breathed a sigh of relief. A long day was just about over.
“I think the best part happens in the next 10 minutes when we do the awards and everyone gets on the bus and reflects back on what they did,” Farny said.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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Editor’s note: This story will be updated as new information becomes available.