Steamboat Springs Alpine ski coach Chris Arnis hopes this will be the year.
He hopes that Steamboat Springs High School combines its talents in Nordic and Alpine skiing to bring home the overall Colorado High School team title. Over the years, the team has put numerous skiers on the podium at the biggest race in high school skiing, which takes place in February.
But the Sailors have never earned the trophy that goes to the team with the best all-around team in both Nordic and Alpine.
This year might be different.
Two-thirds of the way through the season, the Nordic teams, behind skiers such as Marty Smith, Austin Ross, Lisl Pearson and Laura Philip, have proven they are contenders.
Last Saturday, the Sailor boys and the Sailor girls placed first in a freestyle race at the Gold Run Nordic Center near Breckenridge.
The boys team tied with Vail Mountain School for first thanks to Austin Ross' third, Mike Gleason's fourth and Marty Smith's sixth. Paul Rose finished 11th, Bridger Root was 37th, and Paul Berry came in 38th in the field of 80 racers.
Sailor Korie Steitz, who attends the Lowell Whiteman School, placed second, and Sarah MacCarthy was third in the 5K girls race.
Laura Philip was 18th, Katy Conrath was 22nd and Lisl Pearson came in 32nd.
"I think we have a real good chance at bringing home a state title on the Nordic side," coach Barry Smith said. "I'm not sure what Chris (Arnis) has on the Alpine side, but I'm sure we are going to be competitive as a team."
Arnis said he is thrilled to see the Nordic team doing so well this season and is aware that the success of this year's squad may fall squarely on the shoulders of his small, but talented group of Alpine skiers.
"We've got a lot of strong individuals this year, but we don't have a lot of depth," Arnis said. "We will need everyone to contribute if we want to win the state title."
While the Alpine squads have not dominated the league like their Nordic teammates, they have enjoyed many top showings in the first four events of the season.
Last weekend Thomas Allen and Robyn Dye both recorded top-five finishes at a giant slalom race in Loveland.
Allen raced to third in the boys race, which was won by Summit's Spenst Taggert. Steamboat's Andrew Zopf was sixth, Jeff Dye placed seventh. Andrew Goss also skied.
Robyn Dye led the Sailor girls with a fifth. Kathleen Lyons was ninth and Conrath finished 12th. Tina Roberts, who won a high school giant slalom event earlier this year, did not attend the race.
Arnis said the results were typical of the Sailors this season. Several top individual finishes, but a lack of depth hurt the Sailors in the team standings.
The coach hopes that will change before the state finals Feb. 21 and 22 in Steamboat.
Arnis expects his top skiers to be qualified for that meet, but with as few as four skiers in each event it will be key for all of them to finish the race with fast times.
"Howelsen Hill brings out the best in all of these racers," Arnis said. "That's what we will be expecting at the state championships."
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