Steamboat Springs When Steamboat Springs ski racer Taylor Coe arrived at the starting gate for the first of two Junior Olympic giant slalom races Friday, he was greeted by gray sky and a driving snowstorm that made it hard to see exactly were he was going.
"Our visibility was terrible," Taylor Coe said. "Especially at the top of the hill."
So when the young ski racer finally found his way down the hill, he was thrilled to learn that he had finished in ninth place.
But things were going to get better.
In the afternoon, those gray skies gave way to blue, the snow stopped and spring skiing conditions prevailed on the slopes of the Sitz/SeeMe racecourse.
The situation also improved for Taylor Coe, as he topped his ninth-place showing by moving onto the podium with a third-place result.
It was his best of the week.
"When I came into this week I knew the giant slalom was going to be my strongest event," he said. "But I never expected to finish on the podium."
Taylor Coe cruised through the second race (a single run for this age group) with a time of 56.73 seconds putting him in the running for the bronze medal at the J-4 Junior Olympic Championships, which are being held this week in Steamboat.
Team Summit's Will Gregorak raced to a first-place finish with a time of 56.24 and Team Afton's Chad Lawrence was second at 56.55. Taylor Coe's third place led the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's boys team.
His teammate Jace Wirth raced to seventh place, Ryan McConnell was 12th and Taylor's twin brother, Ryan Coe, placed 21st.
Other top local finishers included Hig Roberts in 24th, Nelson Kane in 28th, and Andrew White in 37th. Michael Lyon was 50th and Adam Parke placed 51st in the field of 105 boys.
"It was a fun course," Taylor Coe said. "This course had a lot of turns ... this was my kind of race."
Taylor Coe and his Steamboat teammates will be looking for continued success in today's slalom race.
The boys first run will begin at 8:45 a.m. and will be followed by the girls at 10 a.m. Second runs are scheduled for the afternoon.
Michael Ankeny of Team Sports Hut won the morning's giant slalom race in a time of 54.72.
George Rolfs of the Holy Hill ski team was second with a time of 54.92 and Steamboat's Jace Wirth placed third.
Taylor Coe was ninth, Roberts was 18th and Ryan Coe placed 22nd. Kane finished in the 28th, White was 40th and Lyon placed 45th.
Steamboat coach Scott Wither said Friday's giant slalom was a move in the right direction for the Winter Sports Club team.
He expects more of the same today when the Steamboat skiers compete in the slalom races at Howelsen Hill.
"I wasn't surprised to see more of our skiers at the top of the results today," Wither said. "I think the finishes will help us build some confidence for the slalom races."