Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Steamboat Springs All that separates local skiers Kori Steitz and Sarah McCarthy from their first state titles is 5 kilometers -- and some of the best cross country ski racers in the state of Colorado.
The Steamboat Springs duo will join teammates Jennifer Hooper and Lisl Pearson this weekend in a quest to earn a state skiing title for the Sailor girls.
Austin Ross, Justin Krause, Mike Gleason and Marty Smith will lead a promising boys cross country squad as it pursues the same goal.
Those teams, along with Steamboat's Alpine squad, will be competing at the Colorado State Skiing Championships beginning Friday in Vail.
"We have a lot of promising talent this year," Alpine coach Chris Arnis said. "I think we will be in the running for a title or two."
The Alpine competition will open the state meet with the giant slalom race at 9:30 a.m. Friday on Beaver Creek's Centennial run. The girls will kick things off and the boys are slated to follow.
Steitz will get her first shot at a state title when the cross country athletes take to the 5-kilometer classic course at 4 p.m. at Cordillera.
"I've heard it's a very difficult course," Steitz said. "It should be a challenge for all of us."
On Saturday, the alpine skiers will take to the slalom course, which will also be held at Beaver Creek.
The cross country skiers will head into round two -- a 5-kilomter freestyle race at the Vail Nordic Center.
"This is one of the largest squads we've ever had at a state meet," Nordic assistant Brian Tate said. "I think it's double the size we had last year."
Tate expects the skiers -- and the team's chances for success -- to last beyond this season. None of the eight skiers on the team are seniors, so he is hopeful about the team's future prospects.
"I think both Kori and Sara have a real good opportunity to win a state title," Tate said. "If not this year, then next year."
He thinks the team could even put the Sailors in a position to bring home the overall combined title, which goes to the school with the best Nordic and alpine programs. However, the alpine team will need to have their best races of the season for that to happen this year.
"It's hard to predict what will happen," Arnis said. "These are the races where some teams crumble and other rise to the top."
The alpine squad includes Gunnar Sorensen, Jeff Albright and Jeff Fowler on the boys side and Brittany Lamb, Henley Shephard, Shannon Gormley, Piper Reed and Rebecca Herman on the girls.
While the team has some very talented skiers, it isn't quite as deep as it has been in the past. The coach said all of his skiers would need to stand up through both runs if they want to win the title this year.