Defending state champion Sarah MacCarthy is living proof that winning a state title isn't always the greatest feeling in the world.
The Steamboat Springs sophomore survived challenging conditions along the 5-kilometer course at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center on Friday afternoon en route to her second-straight state title in the classic event. But after crossing the finish line she didn't raise her hands in victory -- instead she fell to the ground overcome by exhaustion.
"I was really worried when I crossed the finish line because I thought I did horrible, because I felt horrible," MacCarthy said.
But the feeling didn't last.
A few moments later, she learned that her time of 19 minutes, 13 seconds was the best in the women's field. Vail's Haleigh Armstrong came in second at 19:28, and Steamboat skier Korie Steitz came in third at 19:33. Fellow Sailor Lisl Pearson was 12th, Laura Philip came in 16th, and Jennifer Hooper placed 24th.
As a team, the Sailors won the classic event, and the girls are currently third behind Summit County (326 points) and Aspen (316 points) in the overall team standings, which combined Nordic and Alpine results.
"It was a great day for our team," MacCarthy said after the race. "The waxing was a little tricky today, but I think everybody skied well."
The Sailors netted 168 points in the first of two cross country events this weekend. The team also is favored in the freestyle event, which will take place at 3 p.m. today on Howelsen Hill's World Cup course.
The state championships got rolling earlier in the day as Steamboat raced to a fifth-place showing in the giant slalom. The Steamboat squad was led by Priska Sorensen, who placed ninth in the race with a time of 1:43.86.
Aspen High School racer Gillian Hearn, who led both runs, finished with a time of 1:37.60 to win the event.
"It was so much fun," Hearn said of the course after the race. "It was very fast and had some trick turns just after the delay."
Katie Hartman of Summit was second at 1:38.62, and Battle Mountain's Erika Ghent was third with a time of 1:41.69.
Steamboat's Kathleen Lyon placed 11th, and Katie Conrath placed 19th. Conrath is the only Sailor to ski in both the Nordic and Alpine events. She placed 42nd in the classic race later in the afternoon.
"All of our athletes skied awesome today," assistant Jessica Kortas said. "We are looking forward to going to Howelsen. We train there all the time and are expecting to do well."
Today's skiing action will begin with the girls slalom race at 9:30 a.m. on the face of Howelsen. In the afternoon, the girls will move to the cross country course at Howelsen for the final event of the 2004 State Skiing Championships.