Flashes of brilliance

Young Steamboat skiers perform well during Junior Olympic Championships

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Ryan Coe celebrated the end of the Junior Olympic Championships in Vail with his best finish of the week.

"I was going for a top 10 at the start of the week," the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier said. "So I was pretty happy when I got it."

Coe's seventh-place finish in the slalom was the top Steamboat result Saturday, the final day of the J-3 Rocky/Central Junior Olympic Championships.

Coach Terry DelliQuadri said the course and conditions were very difficult, but he was surprised so many skiers were caught off guard.

"Almost one-third of the men's field failed to finish both runs," DelliQuadri said. "Many of those that did not finish had major difficulties."

DelliQuadri said the course was challenging, but he also thinks the skiers' nerves may have come into play.

"I tried not to think about it too much," Ryan Coe said. " I don't think it was nerves. There was a hard turn at the bottom of the course, and it caught a lot of skiers off guard. But I didn't think it was that hard."

But he couldn't catch Buck Hill skier Michael Ankeny who set the pace in the event -- finishing nearly 2 seconds ahead of the field.

Other top Steamboat finishers included Nelson Kane in 11th, Michael Lyon in 14th, Josh Fix in 17th, Taylor Coe in 19th, Ryan McConnell in 29th, Jordie Bernard in 41st, Max Marno in 44th and Jace Wirth in 47th.

In the girls race, Jorid Halsnes finished 34th, and Vikki Brown was 41st. Unfortunately, Cassady Roberts missed the final two events because of a concussion she suffered earlier in the week.

"We had some really good results," DelliQuadri said. "Our skiers, all of our skiers, really stepped it up at this week."

The coach was happy to see nearly all of his racers improve from their qualifying performances. In most cases, the Steamboat skiers' results at the Junior Olympics were their best of the season.

The slalom race marked the end of the championships, which began March 8 with the downhill race. The racers also took part in the super-G on Wednesday, the women's giant slalom Thursday and the men's giant slalom Friday.

Vail's Hunter Schleper topped Friday's giant slalom race. Marno finished in 12th for Steamboat. Steamboat's Jimmy Hostetler was fifth after the first run, but had a bobble on the bottom half of the Vail course on his second run. The time he lost while hiking back up to a missed gate dropped him to 39th place. McConnell was 17th, Lyon was 25th, Wirth was 27th, Ryan Coe was 28th, Kane was 33rd, Bernard was 34th, Josh Fix was 38th, and Hig Roberts placed 40th.

"It was a great week," DelliQuadri said. "I saw some skiers show flashes of brilliance, but the key to skiing is putting two runs together," DelliQuardi said. "It doesn't always happen at this level."

With the Junior Olympics completed, the number of racing opportunities for these athletes are limited.

The racers will take part in the Smartwool Series Finale to be held March 23 to 26 in Telluride and the end-of-season Loveland Derby is scheduled for April 16 and 17.

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