Steamboat Nordic team creates Tour de Northern Colorado to comply with COVID policies
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The past year has seen traditions altered, postponed and canceled, but the Steamboat Springs High School Nordic ski team is creating one.
The 2021 ski season will be the first one featuring the Tour de Northern Colorado a three-part series with Steamboat Springs, Middle Park and Poudre Canyon each hosting a race. Point totals for each team and times for each individual will be added up after all three races to determine who wins the tour.
The Tour trophy will be a vintage wooden ski, one for boys and one for girls. The winning team will have its name engraved on the ski and will get to keep the trophy until next winter, when a new team wins the tour.
“I was watching the Tour de Ski a couple weeks ago and I thought, as long as we’re racing with a small group and we don’t have league awards like we used to, let’s do this,” said Sailors Nordic head coach Jesse Wilkins. “It’s going to give the kids something to ski for and it might be a new tradition.”
With just three teams competing, everyone on all three teams will be able to compete in each race.
Even with the Colorado High School Activities Association securing variances for high school sports, the athlete limit for skiing is still 75 per race. Since most races have more than 150 competitors, schedules had to be drastically changed.
The Tour de Northern Colorado comes to Ski Town USA on Feb. 12. The Sailors will host at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center starting at 2 p.m.
Last year, the Nordic team had some of the best skiers in the state, including senior Sumner Cotton, who is looking to end his high school skiing career with a strong season. Also back are seniors Jaydon Fryer and Alex Colby who are both capable athletes. In the state skate race, Colby took 17th while Fryer earned 32nd at state last year.
Colby said a top-10 state finish is in his sights, but he has some improvement to make before doing so.
“I like to say the worst part of my skiing is my skiing,” said Colby. “So, (I need to work on) my technique overall because that’s pretty rough. Definitely my technique overall and strength.”
The girls lost their strongest skier last year in Maggi Congdon to graduation, but returned everyone else including junior Catcher Weynand, who finished 24th in the state skate race. Additionally, Zoe Bennett-Manke, who spent the 2019-20 school year abroad, is back. As a sophomore, Bennett-Manke earned ninth at state, a finish she’s looking to improve on as a senior.
“I’m thinking I can make it to first in the state,” she said. “(I have to) work on strength and technique and just keep on training with the team. The team is awesome.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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