Local skiers earn top results at final event

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— The final Junior Olympic qualifier of the season gave the members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's cross-country program one last opportunity to shine at the regional level.

Six members of the club also learned they would get a chance to ski at the 2005 Junior Olympic Championships to be held March 7 to 13 in Truckee, Calif. Another was named the first alternate and will get a chance if one of the skiers above him can't compete.

"It's been a good season for the club, and I expect to see some excellent racing during our trip to California in a few weeks," coach Brian Tate said.

Local skiers named to the Junior Olympics team were Paul Rose, Marty Smith, Sarah MacCarthy, Korie Steitz, Melissa Krause and Mary Rose. Mike Gleason was listed as a first alternate.

The Steamboat skiers wrapped up the Rocky Mountain Division's season with a unique Skiathlon event, which combines both classic and freestyle skiing into one event.

The format is similar to a multi-sport event where athletes must switch from one sport to another on the fly.

In the Skiathlon, skiers begin on classic skis, but then switch to their skate skis halfway through the event in a special transition area.

"It is very challenging to start a new technique," Tate said. "The classic and freestyle techniques use different muscle groups, and it's very difficult to switch from one to another in the middle of the race."

Because of the warm weather, Tate said waxing for the event was also very difficult.

Top finishes included Marty Smith who finished second in the J-1 class. Teammate Mike Gleason was eighth.

Melissa Krause earned her first podium of the year, placing third in the J-2 girls class. Teammate Mary Rose was fourth. Emily Stout placed seventh in the J-3 girls class and Lisa Stout was ninth. Olivia Rose won the J-5 girls race and teammate Sara Stout was third.

On Sunday, the skiers took part in a two-person skate relay. Each racer skied a lap and tagged their partner to ski the next lap. The number of laps depended on the age of the skiers in that class. The oldest skiers completed three 1.5-kilometer laps each.

Smith and Paul Rose teamed up to place second in the J-1 boys class. Teammates Gleason and Andy Garber finished third.

Krause and Rose were second in the J-2 girls class and Emily Stout and Liza Stout placed fourth in the J-4 girls class. Olivia Rose and Sara Stout finished second in the J-5 class.

--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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