Fifteen-year-old Lowell Whiteman student Paul Rose surprised everybody -- including himself -- at the Junior National Cross County Skiing Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"I don't know what happened," Rose said Monday. "My results this year are not as strong as I would have liked, so I was a little surprised that I had such a great week."
The J2 skier from Steamboat Springs opened the week with a ninth-place showing in the sprint event. He also posted a 19th in the classic, a seventh in the freestyle and was the anchor skier for the second-place Rocky Mountain Division relay team.
"These are my best results ever," Rose said. "I couldn't think of a better way to end the season. I never expected this."
Rose qualified eighth in the sprint event March 8 but was cut from the field in the first elimination heat after placing third in his group.
"I was a little disappointed because I thought I could have done better, but I was pumped to do the other events," Rose said.
On Thursday, the skiers battled through a tough classic race where waxing and knowing how to handle the challenging conditions proved to be as important as the strength of the athletes.
Korie Steitz was the top girl from Steamboat Springs, taking 12th in the 10-kilometer race. Sarah MacCarthy placed 28th in the field of 85 racers.
Rose led the J2 effort while Steamboat's J1 boys struggled on the 15-kilometer course. Marty Smith was the top finisher in 48th, Mike Gleason was 55th and Austin Ross came in 65th.
"The weather conditions changed so much during the day that we just couldn't hit the wax," Steamboat coach Brian Tate said. "We are used to skiing when it's 20 degrees with new snow, not when it's raining. How skiers finished in this race had a lot to do with when they started the race."
Friday was a little better for the Steamboat skiers but remained challenging.
Rose led the team with a seventh-place finish in the 5K J2 skate race and his second top-10 of the week. The J1 boys fared better on the 10K skate course with Gleason leading the way with a 22nd-place finish. Smith was 46th and Ross came in 58th.
On the girls side, MacCarthy finished 39th and was the top Steamboat finisher. Steitz broke a pole in the race and fell to 57th in the final results.
Rose also finished the week on a high note. He joined Durango's Tad Elliott and Boulder's Ian Havlick to place second in the relay event.
"It's the best Rocky Mountain Division finish since I've coached this team," Tate said.
-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org