Cross country skiers go for gold

Local athletes shine at Junior Olympics

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— The cross country skiers at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club will head into the final Junior Olympics qualifier of the season this week in great shape.

The event will take place in Crested Butte, but the two skiers on the team old enough to qualify for the Junior Olympics Championships in Marquette, Mich. already have.

Steamboat's Jessica Philip and Austin Ross have already made the Junior Olympic qualifying cut. The pair will race this weekend in Crested Butte, however, in the final qualifier of the season.

Those races will start on Friday with the with a freestyle race. The athletes will then take part in a classic race on Saturday. Steamboat nordic coach Brain Tate said it looks like all of his skiers are peaking at the right time and he has been very happy with recent results from the team.

"We placed well from the top to the bottom at our last race," Tate said. "Last weekend we were on tough courses (in Winter Park) and I felt like all of our athletes skied very well."

The team posted several top finishes at the races, which were held near Winter Park at the Devil's Thumb and Snow Mountain Ranch touring centers.

The team opened at the Devil's Thumb center on Feb. 9 with a freestyle event. Steamboat's Korie Steitz (J-3 girls), Mary Rose ( J-5 girls) and Dane Mark ( J-5 boys) all won their divisions.

Mike Gleason was second in the J-3 boys race and Kyle Steitz was second in the J-4 boys race. Melissa Krause was second in the J-4 girls race, Emily Stout was second in the J-5 girls and Philip was second in the OJ girls race.

Steamboat's Ross, Justin Krause, Ariel Tredway and Molly Newman all had third place finishes at the meet.

On Feb. 10, the skiers moved the the classic race at the Snow Mountain Ranch.

Ross highlighted the race by winning the J-2 boys race with a time of 20:44. The next closest racer was Travis Scheefer of the Crested Butte team at 21:06.

Other Steamboat winners included Mark in the J-5 boys race and Rose in the J-5 girls race.

Justin Krause was third in the J-3 boys race, Kyle Steitz was fourth in the J-4 boys race and Melissa Krause was second in the J-4 girls race.

The Junior Olympic team will be named after this week's events in Crested Butte. Both Ross and Philip are expected to attend the championships which will be held March 5-10 in Michigan.

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