It's crunch time for members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's age-class Alpine ski teams.
"We have some of the most important races of the season coming up," coach Terry DelliQuadri said. "It's a little stressful for the kids because they want to qualify for the Junior Olympic Championships."
In an effort to get to those championships, the club's J3 skiers will head to Winter Park on Sunday and Monday for the final four of the six Junior Olympic qualifying events.
A top finish at any of the events will earn a skier a return trip to Winter Park for this year's championships, to be held March 7 through 13.
The J3 skiers, who are 13- and 14-year-olds, will go to Crested Butte from Feb. 19 to 21 for the Prater Cup qualifying races. The top finishers in that event will be invited to Steamboat for Junior Olympic races March 17 through 20.
DelliQuadri said he was thrilled with his team's showing at last weekend's final Rocky Mountain Division race of the season in Beaver Creek. The races are used to introduce younger skiers to competition and give older skiers the experience they need to advance in the sport.
"It was a good test for our skiers," DelliQuardi said. "Steamboat, Vail and Summit County have the strongest programs at this age level. This weekend turned out to be a battle for the podium between two divisional powerhouses."
Vail's Tony Seibert won the first J3 boys' slalom race of the event by slipping past Steamboat's Taylor Coe who finished in second.
Steamboat's Ramsey Bernard placed sixth, while Jimmy Hostetler and Nelson Kane tied for seventh. Trevor Wert finished ninth, and Wiley Thayer finished 10th.
Steamboat's Ryan McConnell took first place in the boys' J4 (11- and 12-year-old) race, and Hig Roberts was fifth.
Vail's Sean McCormick won the boys' J5 event for skiers ages 11 and younger. Steamboat's Jeffrey Gay was second, John McKenna was fourth, Connor Bernard was fifth and Murphy Roberts was seventh.
Steamboat's Lauren Letson won the girls' J3 class. Steamboat's Anabelle McLean placed second, Anna Anderson placed fourth and Vikki Brown placed 19th.
Steamboat also took top honors in the J4 girls' race as Cassady Roberts picked up the win. Amanda DeVos was second, and Erika Walters was fifth. Jorid Halsnes was seventh, and Jamie Gay came in eighth.
Vail's Kaytlyn Samuelson won the girls' J5 division. Steamboat's Corinne Landy was second, Cassady Daley was fourth, Katie Hostetler was fifth, Natalie Pearl was sixth and Danielle Brownell was seventh. Elizabeth Rolfs was ninth, and Rachel Dobell came in 10th.
Ramsey Bernard won the second J3 boys' race of the day. Teammate Dylan Roberts was second, and Nelson Kane was fifth. Ian Landy was seventh, Sean Forney was eighth, and George Rolfs was10th.
In the J4 class, Vail's Hunter Schleper won. Steamboat's McConnell was third, Hig Roberts was fourth, Jordan Bernard was fifth, and Tony Rende was ninth.
Vail's McCormick won the J5 race. Steamboat's Jeffrey Gay was third. Murphy Roberts was fifth, and McKenna was sixth. Thomas Lyon finished eighth, Jackson Coe finished ninth and Sean Geisler finished 10th.
McLean topped the J3 girls' race; teammates Anna Anderson finished fourth, Monzie Nackard finished ninth, and Brown finished 10th.
Steamboat's Ashely Stamp was first in the J4 class. DeVos finished third, Halsnes finished fourth, Erika Walters finished fifth, and Maria Hillenbrand finished seventh.
Landy topped the J5 girls class. Teammate Cassady Daley was fourth, Natalie Pearl was fifth, Katie Hostetler was sixth, Brownell was seventh, Dobell was eighth, and Lexie Baden was ninth.
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