Steamboat senior wins girls Skimeister title on pair of Nordic wins

Steamboat Springs High School senior Zoe Bennett-Manke won the girls classic race at the state Skimeister Championships at Howelsen Hill Ski Area on Tuesday.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs High School senior Zoe Bennett-Manke is girls Skimeister for 2021.

To battle for the title of girls and boys Skimeister, more than 40 athletes competed in four different events over six hours at the state Skimeister Championsips at Howelsen Hill Ski Area on Tuesday. The outdoor event brought out masked crowds of parents and peers, adding an energetic element that so many sporting events have been missing.

10:45 a.m. Parents and volunteers form an arch by holding up slalom poles. Freshmen ski through and hold up their poles for the sophomores who extended the tunnel for the juniors and seniors. The inaugural had officially begun.

11:13 a.m. Steamboat senior Zoe Bennett-Manke wins the girls Nordic classic race with a time of 12 minutes and 16 seconds. The next racer was more than a minute behind her.

Bennett-Manke said she could have been faster if she wasn’t so sore from her performance at the Nordic state championships where she took fourth and fifth the weekend before.

“I’m exhausted,” she said. “If I was not as exhausted as I am now, I probably would have been about a minute faster on the Nordic course.”

12:03 p.m. Steamboat senior Alden Wade collapses onto the snow after finishing the classic race. He was the 19th racer to start, and the ninth to finish. The finish set up Wade for a high finish in the overall since he’s typically an Alpine athlete.

1:40 p.m. Bennett-Manke throws up her arms at the conclusion of her second giant slalom run as she heard her time: 29 seconds. Her combined time was the fourth-fastest of the event. Later, in slalom, she earned the fifth-fastest event. With three of four events complete, the Sailor sat in second, one point behind Aspen’s Edie Sherlock.

“I was expecting to do a lot worse,” Bennett-Manke said. “This is my first year doing Alpine. I’m excited. I’m feeling pretty good. I think I actually have a chance of getting skimeister.”

3:04 p.m. Wade nearly missed a gate in his second run of the slalom course, but he saved the skid and still managed to finish in 33 seconds.

“Typically, with Howelsen, we got a lot harder snow, and this was just total slop,” Wade said “So, I’d say ruts (were) probably about in the half foot to a foot range, which is crazy.”

He had the fastest first run in 31 seconds. Even with the blunder on his second run, Wade finished first in slalom. Between that and his second place finish in GS, Wade sat in third overall, 4 points out of first, with one event left.

4:25 p.m. With noses turning pink from a long day in the sun and thighs screaming on the skate warm-up, some athletes probably questioned why in the world they willingly signed up for such an event.

Fryer, in his second year of Nordic skiing and first year of Alpine skiing, was still having a blast.

“Last year, I did Nordic for the first year, and all my friends were doing Alpine, and I heard such great things about it,” Fryer said. “I’m like, ‘You know, might as well do both.’ Coming into senior year, I really wanted to have fun and enjoy this last year doing as many sports as I can. I’m just trying to make the most of my senior year.”

The snowboarder-turned-skier ended up eighth in the final standings.

4:30 p.m. Bennett-Manke crosses the fourth and final finish line of the day with a winning time of 10:37, sealing her Skimeister victory. Just 1 point separated her and second-place finisher Edie Sherlock. Steamboat’s Caroline Baur finished fifth in the overall standings, taking eighth in both Alpine races, third in classic and second in the skate race.

5:01 p.m. Wade crashes across the skate race finish line. “I’m tired,” he says from the ground. His efforts earned him the 10th best time of the race, putting him in second overall. Aspen’s Christian Kelly won the title of male Skimeister 2021. Steamboat senior Andy Henderson finished sixth overall. Jaxson Fryer finished 12th.

Skimeister 2021

Girls top 5

1. Zoe Bennett-Manke, SS, 11. 2. Edie Sherlock, A, 12. 3. Bella Lynch, N, 17. 4. Quinn Kelley, VM, 21. 5. Caroline Baur, SS, 21.

Boys top 5

1. Christian Kelly, A, 15. 2. Seamus Farrell, BM, 22. 2. Alden Wade, SS, 27. 3. Will Brunner, VM, 27. 5. Jace Peters, LC, 28.

Steamboat finishers: 6. Andy Henderson 32. 8. Jaydon Fryer 35. 12. Jaxson Fryer 57.

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