Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Sarah MacCarthy returned to Soldier Hollow last week for the first time since a disappointing performance at the U.S. National Cross-Country Championships earlier this month.
She was hoping for redemption -- and found it along the rolling hills of the 2002 Olympic venue.
"I wanted to prove that I could ski at a high level," MacCarthy said. "I didn't accomplish my goal at nationals this year, but that was just one of my goals."
MacCarthy missed her chance to qualify for the Junior World Championships in Kranj, Slovenia, after missing the cut at the U.S. Nationals.
So when she returned to Soldier Hollow for the Super Junior Olympic Qualifier, she wanted to ski her best.
"These races were about four times bigger than a normal junior Olympic qualifier," coach Brian Tate said. "The competition was much higher than our typical races, with between 60 and 90 competitors in each age division."
The added number of skiers didn't seem to deter MacCarthy as she dominated the qualifying and early heats in the freestyle sprint event in the Older Junior division.
In the finals, Montana skier Mellie Park was the only skier to give MacCarthy a run. In a tight sprint to the finish, Park skated away with the win.
"I really like the sprint format because it's head to head," MacCarthy said.
Her finish was just one of many by Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club girls competing at the event.
Other top finishes included Olivia Rose's first in the J5 division, Lucy Newman's second in the J4 division, Mallory Richie's fourth in the J4 division, Kate Cooper's ninth in the J4 division, Michaela Frias' fourth in the J3 division and Eva Lambek's 21st in the J3 division. Katherine Ingalls placed third in the J2 division and was followed by teammates Melissa Krause in ninth and Molly Newman in 21st.
MacCarthy also skied strong during Saturday's 10-kilometer mass start classic race.
She placed third in the Older Junior class. Olivia Rose picked up her second victory of the week in the J5 division, and Lucy Newman topped the results in the J4 division. Richie was fourth in the J4 division, and Cooper followed in eighth.
In the J3 division Frias was 11th, and Lambek was 23rd. Ingalls led the J2 girls with a second-place finish. Krause was fifth, and Molly Newman placed ninth.
The boys' races were highlighted by the performance of Kyle Steitz, who came from a poor starting position in the men's 5-kilometer mass start race to finish seventh in Saturday's race.
"Kyle had a remarkable race in the mass start classic," Tate said. "He started in the 57th pin position, which is toward the back of the pack."
Steitz passed 50 skiers in the race and nearly caught the lead pack down the stretch.
"I had to go hard from the start," Steitz said. "That was my only chance."
In Friday's sprint race, Steitz finished 28th in the J2 division. Teammate Paul Rose was 10th in the J1 division.
-- To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209 or e-mail email@example.com