Thursday, February 10, 2005
After several top showings in the final two meets of the regular season, it would appear that the members of the Steamboat Springs High School ski teams are ready to make a run at a state title.
But a week before the biggest meet of the high school season, when the Nordic and Alpine teams should be building confidence, there is a sense of uncertainty surrounding the Alpine team.
"It's frustrating," cross-country coach Barry Smith said. "But there is only so much we have control over. We go in hoping to win the Nordic side of things -- that's all we can do."
Steamboat's Nordic teams were on top of their game headed down the stretch.
The boys won the final meet of the season in Leadville, and the girls finished third.
Steamboat's Marty Smith led the field in the Leadville race. Teammate Paul Rose was sixth, and Mike Gleason was eighth. Korie Steitz and Sarah MacCarthy, who tied for sixth place, led the Steamboat girls. Katie Conrath, the next best Steamboat racer, was 27th.
The finishes have Smith excited about his team's chances next weekend in Breckenridge.
Things are not as certain for the members of Steamboat's Alpine team.
The Colorado High School State Skiing Championships, which are scheduled for Feb. 18 and 19, will take place on the same weekend as a very important USSA points race in Telluride.
The points race in Telluride is the final qualifier for skiers in the J-2 division and their last chance to make the national cut.
That means many of the high school team's top skiers, who also compete at the club level, will participate in only part of the state championships. There is also a chance that some of them will miss it altogether.
"It's a little frustrating, but we knew it was coming," said Chad Bowdre, the high school's Alpine coach. "I don't blame the skiers. They've got to do what they've got to do."
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Competitive Alpine Director Chris Puckett said he also would leave the choice up to the skiers.
"I just want to help the members of our team achieve their goals," Puckett said. He said the skiers need to make choices based on their personal goals and that it's unfortunate that the high school race falls on such a big weekend.
On Thursday, Bowdre was confident he could field a full team from the 17 skiers who qualified for the high school race, but he was not sure which racers would attend the championships.
"We will have three for each race, but not necessarily my top racers," Bowdre said.
He was working to arrange a van to take the Steamboat skiers from Friday's giant slalom race in Keystone to the race in Telluride, so that they could take part in part of both races.
Bowdre said the conflict with state is disappointing because the team has been so strong when the top racers come out.
The Steamboat boys team won the slalom race Jan. 28 in Eldora but only took two racers to the regular season finale Feb. 3 in Beaver Creek. The girls won the Beaver Creek race behind a fourth-place finish by Robyn Dye, a seventh-place finish by Anna Anderson and a 10th-place finish by Conrath. Kathleen Lyon, who was not seeded on the Steamboat team, finished second.
Bowdre is confident the team will contend for the state title and has high hopes for Friday's giant slalom race, when most of the top racers will be able to attend.