Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Steamboat Springs The U.S. Senior Nationals Cross-Country Skiing Champ--ionships is the elite competition for special Nordic skiers within the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
But the Junior Olympics are the second most important event, meaning six Steamboat skiers are excited about the chance to race in this year's Junior Olympics -- even if they have to travel halfway across the country to get there.
"The main event we want to do well in is Senior Nationals," said Paul Rose, a four-time Junior Olympic qualifier. "The second most important is JOs."
Katherine Ingalls, Melissa Krause, Sarah MacCarthy, Molly Newman, Mary Rose and Paul Rose will represent the Winter Sports Club and the Rocky Mountain Division, or Rocky Mountain Nordic, when the 2006 Junior Olympics open March 3 in Houghton, Mich.
Houghton is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Winter Sports Club athletes and coaches Brian Tate and Travis Jones will fly into Detroit and make the eight-hour trip by automobile to the competition.
This will be MacCarthy's fifth trip to the JOs. It is Krause's and Mary Rose's second year. Ingalls and Newman are rookies. For Paul Rose, this will be his fourth trip to the Junior Olympics. But this year, it almost didn't happen. He had two top-five finishes in Aspen during the weekend to qualify at the last moment.
"All the girls pretty much had it in the bag," Tate said. "But Paul Rose was not in the running, and he dug deep and pulled out a spectacular two races to make the team."
Forty-nine athletes from the Rocky Mountain Division are heading to Michigan.
"I had to be in the top five both days," Paul Rose said. "I pulled it off. Somehow, I did it."
The Junior Olympics invite means even more to Rose, who has been sick for most of this season.
"For the past two years, I've been struggling with a sickness, and no one knows what it is," he said.
Rose is asthmatic and is taking medication, so he thinks the illness is something else. He now wears a black mask that warms the air he breathes to 70 degrees.
"That has helped," Rose said. "I tried it in a race."
The 2006 Junior Olympics run from March 6 to 11. To make the team, the Steamboat athletes needed to finish high enough in four of the eight qualifying races. They will race classic and freestyle races while in Michigan. There also is a team event.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com