Steamboat Springs Nordic skiers Todd O'Blenness and Loren Elkins started the week off strong turning in their best results at the U.S. Skiing Association National Championships on Tuesday.
In the first competition at Waterville Valley, N.H., that drew skiers from around the country, Elkins broke into the top 20 in the 1.5K sprint race with a 19th finish. O'Blenness took 25th in Tuesday's sprint.
After three races, the Colorado Mountain College students wrapped up the competition in Friday's 10K freestyle event, in what could have been their last race for the school.
Despite the 60-degree temperatures in Waterville Valley, Elkins and O'Blenness said they found the right wax for their skis to help turn in top 30 performances in the freestyle race. Elkins finished in 21st place and O'Blenness finished 26th.
"I felt strong. (Friday) was the best I did all week. I didn't do as well in the other races," O'Blenness said. "Skate is my best technique."
With the weather warming throughout the week, the skiers had to deal with puddles and slushy conditions in the skate race.
"The 10K race felt really good," Elkins said. "It was warm and had puddles in some spots. But, it wasn't too bad skiing in warm weather."
Neither racer could break into the top 20 in Thursday's 15K classic race. Elkins took a 29th and O'Blenness finished 26th out of the 42 competitors.
Teaming with the University of Wyoming's Clayton Burrows, Elkins and O'Blenness pulled out a fifth-place finish in the 3x7.5K relay.
Nine teams competed in the mixed-technique race.
At last year's national meet, O'Blenness and Elkins both had top-20 finishes and were expecting repeat performances. But CMC Nordic coach Pedar Inger said this year brought stronger competition with teams like Washington's Whitman College having skiers that could compete at the NCAA level.
"This is the hardest year at college nationals. There are definitely really fast skiers that should be at NCAAs," Inger said.
With O'Blenness considering a transfer to the University of Wyoming and Elkins looking for film schools in California, this week marked the last time the two Nordic skiers would compete for CMC at nationals.
Inger said the Nordic team still might finish with spring season competitions, but Friday was the year's most competitive meet.