When seconds count

Steamboat's Allen's bid for a state title falls short

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Less than a second.

That's all that separated Steamboat Springs Alpine skier Thomas Allen from winning a state title Friday afternoon on the slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area. Allen led the first of two runs in the giant slalom event on the first day of the Colorado High School State Skiing Championships, but a bobble at the top of his second run cost the time he needed to keep the individual state title in Steamboat.

"I knew it was going to be close," Allen said after the run. "I messed up a little bit, but it was an alright run. I'm happy with the finish -- second is definitely good."

This year's giant slalom title went to Battle Mountain's Muzi Gazioglu, who posted the fastest two-run time of the day at 1 minute, 35.35 seconds. Allen followed Gazioglu closely in second at 1:35.93, and Aspen's Paul Britvar came in third with a time of 1:36.58.

Steamboat's only other racer, Jeff Dye, placed eighth with a time of 1:39.70.

"I had two decent runs, so I'm pretty happy," Gazioglu said. "I'm not surprised that (Allen) was in first after the first run. He is a very good skier."

Allen and Gazioglu have skied against each other at the club level for years. Gazioglu said the two skiers typically go back and fourth in the final results, but Friday it was the Battle Mountain skier's turn to win.

"We are good friends," Gazioglu said. "Sometimes he beats me, and other times I beat him."

The top finishes helped the home team get off to a strong start in the state skiing championships. After the classic cross country event, which was held in the afternoon, Steamboat (with 278 points) was sitting in third place behind Summit County (331) and Aspen (319) in the team standings.

The Sailors placed second in the boy's 5-kilometer cross country classic race thanks to the efforts of Marty Smith, Austin Ross, Mike Gleason and Paul Rose.

Summit County's Pete Richmond won the race with a time of 15:03.9. Sylvan Ellefson followed Richmond in second at 15:20.0, and Smith came in third at 15:29.4.

Ross came in sixth at 15:39.4, Gleason came in eighth at 15:58.7, and Rose was 20th at 16:42.9.

"It was slippery and sticky, too," Smith said. "On the turns, it was sticky, and on the uphill straights, it was slick."

The conditions made for one of the most challenging races of the season for the members of the Sailors' boys team. But when the final results came in, the Sailors had chalked up another top finish. Coach Barry Smith said picking the right wax for the snow conditions was challenging, but it was a good race for the athletes to test their skills.

"I'm sure it was tough on them," Smith said. "But that's what makes for a good race."

The Sailors will head to Howelsen today for the final event of the skiing championships. Coach Smith said he's hoping for another strong showing from his boys in the race, which will be held at the base of the ski hill along the former Nordic combined World Cup track.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.

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