Prep skiers gear up for races

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— The high school ski racing season will kick into full gear this weekend at Howelsen Hill as Steamboat Springs High School hosts cross-country and alpine events.

"This is the season-opener for our alpine kids," head coach Chris Arnis said. "All of my skiers are looking forward to opening the season strong."

Steamboat will have full boys and girls alpine teams on Saturday. Steamboat will also have a full boys cross-country team and several strong girls skiers in today's events.

Arnis said 11 teams are expected to come to Steamboat and take part in both days of racing. Teams will include Middle Park, Nederland, Summit County, Eagle Valley, Platte Canyon, Lake County, Vail Mountain School, Alexander Dawson, Clear Creek and Battle Mountain. The defending state championship team, Aspen, will also be on hand for the events.

The freestyle cross-country race will begin at 1 p.m. with middle school races. Head cross-country coach Brian Tate said the high school races would start between 1:30 and 2 p.m. with the girls. The boys will follow that same afternoon.

"We are small this year, but hopefully we will be growing in the future," Tate said.

Tyler Percy, Austin Ross and Keegan O'hara will represent the Steamboat team in today's races. The team's only girls, Jessica Phillip, will be out of town at the U.S. Nationals.

Tate said the four races, which include two middle school races and two high school races, will draw about 175 competitors.

On Saturday, the high school athletes will move over to the steep face of Howelsen Hill for a slalom event.

The girls' first run will begin at 9:30 a.m., and the second run will take place immediately following the completion of the first.

Cassidy Kurtz, Brittany Lamb, Rebecca Herman and Camilla Chase will head up the girls team.

The boys team includes 16 skiers this year, including seasoned veterans such as Joe Liefer and Stewart Beall. Other notable skiers include Andrew Porter-Merrill, Jeff Albright, Ron Assad, Tanner Barr, JoJo Bucci, Chris Dombey, Kori Dooley, Mark Gillaspie, Gates Gooding, Dillon Gattshall, Tony Haight, Taylor Patterson and Gunnar Sorensen.

This weekend's high school ski races will be the only ones held in Steamboat Springs this winter. The cross-country team raced in Eldora Dec. 15 and will also race at Mt. Sopris (Jan. 13), Snow Mountain (Jan. 20), Vail Golf course (Feb. 2) and Frisco (Feb. 12).

This Saturday's race is the first for the alpine teams. Steamboat will also compete in events in Loveland (Jan. 12), Winter Park (Jan. 19), Summit (Jan. 25), Vail (Feb. 3) and Beaver Creek (Feb. 9).

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