Sailors skiers gear up for races


— A well-rested Steamboat Springs High School ski team will head to the hills this week hoping to strike gold in the mountains around Leadville.

The Colorado State Skiing Championships will take place Feb. Friday and Saturday at the Ski Cooper Ski area. The cross-country events will take place at a nearby location at the same time.

"I'm going to ski in the Junior Olympics, but the most important thing right now is the state meet," Steamboat ski racer Stewart Beall said.

The Steamboat team will be off this week for Blues Break but will regroup Friday to compete in the state championships. Steamboat won the final meet of the season Feb. 9 behind strong results at Beaver Creek. Beall's second-place finish, combined with Joe Liefer's third-place finish and Gunnar Sorensen's fourth, gave the Steamboat team the win.

Steamboat was followed by Battle Mountain and Middle Park in the standings.

"We've got a really strong team this season," Beall said. "I think we are definitely headed there (to the state meet) to win."

As expected, all of Steamboat's top guns have qualified to ski in the state meet's slalom and giant slalom events.

"We've got a good group of skiers going this year," Sailors coach Chris Arnis said. "It's not going to be easy, but we have to be considered one of the favorites to win the whole thing."

Beall, a senior, will be joined by junior Liefer and sophomore Sorensen in both the slalom and giant slalom events.

Andrew Porter-Merrill, Chris Dombey and Ronald Assad will also represent the team in the slalom event. Porter-Merrill, Dombey and JoJo Bucci will ski in the giant slalom races as part of the team.

Steamboat skiers Gates Gooding and Mark Gillaspie will ski as individuals in the slalom. Gooding, Dillon Gottshall and Kori Dooley will also ski in the giant slalom as individuals.

The girls team will be represented by the same three skiers in both events. Cassidy Kurtz, Brittany Lamb and Camilla Chase will lead the girls at the state meet. The team's fourth skier, Rebecca Herman, will be in Italy during the races on vacation.

The Sailors' nordic team will be small this year, but Arnis said it should be strong.

The boys squad will be led by Austin Ross, who will ski in both the classic and freestyle events. He will be joined by Tyler Percy and Bucci in the classic event on Friday. On Saturday, Ross, Percy, Keegan O'Hara and possibly Davis Miller are expected to take part in the freestyle event. The girls team will have just one skier in Jessica Philip. Philip was a top 3 finisher at last year's state meet and is a favorite to take the girls' individual title this year.

"I think she has a good shot at winning both events," Arnis said. "She has been in the top 2 all year."


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