Up next: State ski meet

Sailors' Alpine squad sending 10 Nordic team boasts 5

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— By late Saturday afternoon, Steamboat's Hennie Kashiwa expects to be exhausted.

For two days, Kashiwa will shuttle between Winter Park Ski Area and nearby Nordic courses as he chases down the top high school skimeister in the state.

Going into this weekend's high school state ski meet, Kashiwa trails just three points behind Vail's Duncan Robinson, who holds the top place as the state's best high school Alpine and cross country skier. But those three points are minimal going into the state tournament this weekend where Kashiwa can earn 40 points per event competing in two cross-country races and two Alpine competitions.

"It's a feat of endurance for sure," Kashiwa said of the first time he will compete in the two separate disciplines in the same day.

Kashiwa is one of 10 members going to the state tournament this weekend for the Alpine team, one of five from the cross country ski team and the only Steamboat athlete to compete in the skimeister event.

Kashiwa is also not alone in his chances of taking home All-State honors. Despite a slow start to the season, Steamboat high school Alpine coach Chris Arnis thinks his teams have a chance at taking home the title at this year's state meet.

"We're going to peak at state," Arnis said. "We're coming on strong. We're all skiing better, gelling as a team. We're really going to kick some butt."

Overall state team standings are determined by the performance of both the Alpine and cross country team. And cross country coach Brain Tate sees his team as having a strong chance of placing top three.

"We've got a young, talented team," Tate said. "The team from Summit is just very tough. They generally have two or three (racers) in the top five. I am hoping we come in second."

The giant slalom at Winter Park Ski Area will kick off the state meet at 9:30 a.m. Friday and is followed by the cross country freestyle competition Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Devil's Thumb Nordic Center. On Saturday, the slalom event will be held at Winter Park at 9:30 a.m. and the cross country classical race at Snow Mountain YMCA starts at 3:30 p.m.

While Kashiwa is the only Sailor competing in all four events, a handful of others are expected to also finish high.

Topping the list are Cassidy Kurtz and Genny McGeary, both who have consistently nabbed top-three finishes in the slalom and giant slalom competitions this season. In the past two competitions, the giant slalom at Ski Cooper and the slalom at Vail, McGeary took first.

Earlier this season, Kurtz took a second in the giant slalom at Summit and slalom at Steamboat, finishing both times behind Summit's Tucker Burton. Although battling a case of mono that was diagnosed a few weeks ago, Kurtz is looking to compete at the state tournament at full speed.

"I haven't been able to train in two weeks. I don't think I am prepared as good as I could be," Kurtz said. "But, regardless, I just want to have fun and have no regrets."

On the boys side of the Alpine team, Chris Dombey, who has worked his way up to top-10 finishes this season, will lead the Sailors.

Kashiwa is also expecting to finish well for the boys as he has gathered a number of top-15 finishes this year. Although it is Kashiwa's first year in the Nordic competition, he claims it is his better event and what he is hoping will push him into first place for the skimeister competition. While the Sailors have not raced at Winter Park this year, Arnis said the venue is a definite plus for his team.

"It's so close to Steamboat. A lot of them have spent a lot of time on that hill. They love it there. It's like our home away from home," he said.

On the Nordic side of the competition, the Sailors have the threat of Austin Ross, who has consistently placed in the top five at high school events, and Kashiwa, Mike Gleason and Justin Krause, who have placed in the top 10 to 15 this season.

Ross said Summit's Josh Dayton and Kyle Ahern and Aspen's Simi Hamilton look to be the top competition coming into the state meet.

"I'm hoping top five," Ross said. "I am thinking the team might be able to get in the top three spots."

On the first day, the Sailors Nordic team will be competing on the grueling course at Devil's Thumb for the freestyle race. Competing at Devil's Thumb earlier this year, the Sailors have experience with the steep course, which rises more than 9,000 feet and ends on a hairy downhill.

Freshman Korie Steitz, who has captured first place in every high school race this season, will not be competing in the state tourney. She will be in Salt Lake City with her father, Tom Steitz, coach of the Olympic Nordic combined team.

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