Steamboat Springs It didn't take Kris Allen long to remember how to hit the gates.
After missing the previous two ski seasons because of injury, Allen opened his Alpine season at Copper Mountain last weekend with an impressive first run of 34.53 seconds in the giant slalom.
"In his first race back in two years, he came in and blew the doors off everybody," Steamboat Springs High School Alpine coach Chad Bowdre said.
Allen had to do a quick turn-around to catch a missed gate on his second run, which resulted in a 35th-place finish. He still made the state-qualifying cut of the top one-third of the 141 racers.
Fortunately, the Sailors had plenty of other strong performances on the boys team to catapult them to a second-place team finish behind host school Summit.
Ian Landry led the way for Steamboat, besting Allen's time with a run of 34.44 seconds. His combined time of 1:09 wasn't enough to beat Aspen's Wiley Maple, but his second-place finish helped Steamboat with 59 team points.
Jimmy Hostetler (11th), and Andrew White (16th) also scored for Steamboat. Ben Paley's 25th-place finish rounded out the group of five Sailors who are now qualified for the state championship races Feb. 15 and 16 in Vail. Each qualified racer must now start at least one more GS race to be eligible for states in that race discipline.
On the girls side, freshman Lorin Paley was Steamboat's top racer. She finished 10th in 1:16.2 to qualify for state. Steamboat's other two scoring racers, Holly Hillenbrand (54th) and Amanda Tegtmeier (64th), just missed the cut to qualify for state, but helped the team to an eighth-place finish in the field of 14 teams. Summit won the race, followed by Middle Park and Battle Mountain.
Bowdre noted how impressive the finishes were for Paley, Hillenbrand - a skimeister athlete who was in her first Alpine race in eight years - and Tegtmeier, who was participating in her first race.
He also mentioned that a few of the team's top skiers either did not finish the race or were disqualified. A couple of team members stayed in town for the Steamboat Holiday Classic slalom races.
"If everybody (on the boys team) had good runs, we would've won," Bowdre said. "We can win on the girls side as well. We'll get there."
Steamboat's Alpine teams will be back in action for a home slalom race Jan. 4.
Steamboat's Nordic team also fared well in its skate races Thursday at the Gold Run Nordic Center in Summit County.
The girls team finished fifth behind Battle Mountain, Summit, Vail Christian and Middle Park.
Sophomore Cameron Osteen was Steamboat's top girls finisher in 20:19. She finished 12th overall and qualified for state along with freshman Katherine Lynch (24th). Anna Anderson also scored for the Sailors but finished 30th, missing the qualification cut-off by three places.
The squad of 18 Nordic skiers was the biggest coach Barry Smith has taken to a race in his three years as coach.
"A lot of kids are still learning," Smith said. "We had some that have skied less than 10 times, where this was their first race. It was a good race. I was impressed with all the kids, I think we're off to a good start."
Sophomore Bryce Gordon again qualified for state, leading the Sailors with a 15th-place time of 17:19.5. Jasper Gantick also qualified with a 25th-place finish in the field of 74 skiers. Steamboat's Adam Parke also scored for the boys team but just missed the cut for state.
The boys team finished fifth overall. Summit won the race, followed by Battle Mountain, Lake County and Middle Park.
Steamboat Nordic coach Jessica Maniaci thinks the team's size will begin to yield results.
"The kids that haven't skied before are bringing an enthusiasm and energy that's rubbing off on some of the more experienced skiers," Maniaci said. "Each race, we'll just get stronger."
The Nordic teams' next races are Jan. 13 in Aspen.