While many high school cross country teams were busy competing last weekend, the Steamboat Springs boys and girls were out on a long practice run.
First-year coach Glen Light said it was probably for the best, considering high school athletes must complete nine practices before racing, and some of the Sailors weren't yet at that number.
Steamboat will open the season Saturday morning on Howelsen Hill in what annually has been called the "Sufferfest" because of its elevation and climbs.
"The course will be different than last year because of the construction of the ski jumps," Light said. "We'll go by the BMX track and then work from there on some of the winter Nordic trails, come out by the outruns of the Nordic jumps and do an out-and-back on the Bluffs loop."
The adrenaline that comes from getting out in the first race of the season may work to Steamboat's advantage.
"I think they are getting anxious, and that can work for you," Light said.
Junior varsity and varsity runners will not run separate races Saturday, but Steamboat held time trials last week to help sort out who would probably run varsity this weekend. The future varsity lineup will be determined by results from this meet.
Every racer hasn't been at every practice due to other commitments. For example, the Nordic skiers on the cross country team are also dry-land training with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, but Light knows those athletes are getting in quality workouts on rollerskis.
Light expects the Steamboat runners to fare well on their home hill. The boys race begins at 8:30 a.m. The girls are scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m. near the base of Howelsen Hill.
Full teams or partial teams expected to attend are: Moffat County, Glenwood Springs, Regis, Aspen and Rifle.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org