Skiers take up space on Keystone podium

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— He might have been caught a little off guard by his team's recent run of success, but Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Chris Puckett wouldn't want it any other way.

"We are kind of hogging the podium down here," Puckett said from Keystone Monday afternoon, where his girls took the top-three spots at the Junior Olympic Championships.

Since the events opened with last Friday's downhill, Steamboat skiers have made a habit of grabbing top spots at the end-of-season event for the top J-1 and J-2 athletes in the country.

Steamboat's Emily Colin took first place in the women's giant slalom on Monday with a time of 2 minutes, 38.82 seconds. She was followed by teammates Tina Roberts (2:40.06) in second and Jenna Cesolini (2:40.07) in third.

Steamboat's Heidi Hillenbrand was fifth at 2:42.21.

"It's been a crazy competition," Puckett said. "I thought we would be successful, but I never saw this coming. Our skiers have been recording top finishes in packs"

Not only did Steamboat claim the top-three sports overall in the women's giant slalom, but local skiers also took the top 3 in the J-2 division (skiers between 15-16 years of age) events as well.

Roberts was the top J-2 followed by Cesolini and Hillenbrand.

The men also enjoyed a successful showing in their giant slalom race, which was held on Sunday.

Tyler Smedsrud led the pack by ripping past the field in en route to first place with a time of 2:33.16.

His teammate Tony Cesolini was second at 2:33.80 and Ian Dunlop of Crested Butte was third with a time of 2:33.95.

Local skiers Sean Dixon was sixth, Christopher Gibson was seventh, Carter Allen came in eighth and Marsh Gooding was ninth.

"We grabbed six out of the top-nine places," Puckett said. "It was an amazing day, and we are on an amazing roll."

It was Smedsrud's first gold medal of the Junior Olympics.

But it wasn't his first podium.

On Saturday, he finished second to teammate Tony Cesolini who took first place in the super-G. Smedsrud was second and Joe Marias, who started in the 93rd position, placed third in the event.

Kristen Poehling won the women's race, which was held the same day.

Chelsea Lynch was second and Lauren Brien was third.

The top Steamboat finishers were Roberts in fifth place (first among J-2 skiers) and Jenna Cesolini in seventh (second among the J-2 field).

The Junior Olympic Championships opened last Friday with the downhill at Keyston.

Poehling was the women's title in that event by topping Staci Rixford and Brien. Steamboat's Roberts was seventh, and Hillenbrand was ninth.

Ben Babbitt topped the mens downhill. Steamboat's Smedsrud was second and Gooding was third.

The Keystone Junior Olympic Championships will come to a close today with the slalom races.

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