Cross country skiers on way to McCall

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— Cross country skiers Korie Steitz, Austin Ross and Sarah McCarthy will be representing the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club at this year's Junior Olympics in McCall, Idaho.

Steitz and McCarthy, who will be making their first trips to the JOs, said they were not sure what to expect in McCall next month.

"McCall, I've never heard of it," Steitz joked on Tuesday while waxing her skis in the Winter Sports Club locker room. "It should be a real learning experience, that's for sure."

But the skier was not letting her lack of championship experience temper her hopes for top finishes.

"It's going to be tough," Steitz said. "But I think we will be pretty competitive."

McCarthy echoed her teammate's enthusiasm but also admitted she doesn't have any real expectations headed into her first Junior Olympic event.

"I just want to go there and have some fun," McCarthy said. "We've never qualified before, so it's a little hard to know exactly what to expect."

The three skiers earned the right to ski at the event based on their results during eight Junior Olympic qualifiers held during the course of the season. For Steitz and McCarthy, this was the first year they could qualify. Ross has qualified for the second year in a row.

The racers must finish within 7 percent of the top racer's time in two classic and two skate races to be invited to McCall.

The Junior Olympic team is then selected from teams including Aspen, Boulder, Crested Butte, Durango, Grand County, Lake County, Summit County, Vail and Steamboat Springs.

Teams from around the nation will send 42 athletes to the Junior Olympics for the weeklong competition, March 4-10.

Steamboat's Jessica Philip, who is attending Dartmouth, will also represent the Winter Sports Club in the older junior division at the competition. Head Nordic coach Brian Tate will make the trip as the Rocky Mountain Division team's wax technician. Jessica Gray, who attends Western State, will also be skiing for the Rocky Mountain Division as an older junior.

Ross is confident that last year's experience in Ishpeming, Mich., will pay off for him this year in McCall.

"I just hope it's better than last year," Ross said. "Everyone has told me that the first year of Junior Olympics is about learning."

The Nordic team just wrapped up the regular season last week with events in Leadville and Breckenridge.

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