Tuesday, February 8, 2005
By the time Marty Smith reached Elk Avenue in downtown Crested Butte, he didn't have time or energy to soak in the historic city.
During Friday's Junior Olympic qualifier, he could hear his mother cheering as he hung on through a treacherous hairpin curve at 25 mph. The curve, which came at the end of a long downhill, led the skiers to the heart of downtown, where hundreds of fans lined up to celebrate Crested Butte's version of Winter Carnival.
The spectators reached a fevered pitch as Smith and two other skiers streaked toward the finish line.
But as Smith cruised past the skyline of downtown Crested Butte en route to the finish line, he paid little attention to the spectacle that surrounded him. All he could feel was the pain in his legs, all he could hear was his heart pounding inside his head, and all he could think about was finishing the race before his body gave way to exhaustion.
"I was out of gas," Smith said. "By the time I got to the downtown stretch, I had nothing left. I couldn't have done anything else."
Three seconds in front of him, Sylvan Ellefson of Vail had crossed the finish line. Ian Havelick of Boulder slipped past in the final few strides to take second as Smith held on to take third in the field of about 30 of the top J-1 racers in the region.
"The setting made this a very exciting race," Steamboat coach Brain Tate said. "We had our normal (Rocky Mountain Division) field, but I think there were a few more people watching the races."
"I was happy," Smith said. "I did everything I could."
After the race, Smith had no regrets, and he said the race to the center of downtown was exciting.
For Smith, it was a rare urban experience in a sport that usually takes place at Nordic centers tucked in out-of-the-way locations. The crowds and the experience were fun, but Smith admits that as he made his way toward the finish line, the surroundings had little meaning as he focused on finishing the race.
Other top Steamboat finishers included Mike Gleason in eighth, Paul Rose in 12th and Andy Garber in 13th in the J-1 division. Sarah MacCarthy was third in the J-1 girls division.
Melissa Krause was fourth, and teammate Mary Rose was fifth in the J-2 girls race. Carter Miller topped the J-3 boys race followed by teammate Jake Lyons in 19th.
In the J-3 girls race, Steamboat's Katherine Ingalls was second, Molly Newman was fifth, Cameron Osteen was 10th, and Liza Stout was 14th.
Michaela Frias was third in the J-4 girls race, teammate Haley Piske was 12th, Mallory Richie was 13th and Lucy Newman was 15th. Olivia Rose took first place in the J-5 girls race.
On Sunday, the Steamboat skiers returned to downtown Crested Butte for the skate relay race.
Krause and Mary Rose teamed up to take second in the J-2 girls division. Miller and Lyons finished second in the J-3 boys race. Molly Newman and Ingalls placed second in the girl's race, and Osteen and Liza Stout took third. Lucy Newman and Frias finished second in the J-4 girls race, and Piske and Richie finished third.