MacCarthy takes top finish

Steamboat Springs skier third in Junior Olympics event

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— Steamboat Springs skier Sarah MacCarthy opened the 2006 Junior Olympic Nordic Championships in Michigan on a high note Monday afternoon by earning a spot on the podium.

MacCarthy placed third in the "older junior" division in the opening event of the Junior Olympic Championships, the individual sprint competition. MacCarthy is a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and a junior at Steam--boat Springs High School.

The only racers to beat her in the final standings were Morgan Smyth of Northern Michigan University and Audrey Weber of Minneapolis Ski Club. Smyth placed first in the final heat, and Weber was second in the event, which was held in Houghton, Mich.

In the sprint competition, skiers compete in an all-out race along a one-kilometer track. They are put into heats of four or more skiers and must finish in the top two to advance to the next level.

MacCarthy made it to the finals, where she placed third in her heat and third overall for the day.

On the men's side, former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier Marty Smith placed 21st in the older juniors class. He left Steamboat this season to train, compete and study at Stratton Mountain School, a college prep school in Vermont. Dakota Blackhorse Von Jess, of the Mount Bachelor Ski Education Foundation, won the men's race, followed by Sun Valley's Luke Pletcher.

The Junior Olympic Champ--ionships will continue Wed--nesday with the classic events. The racers will compete on courses from five to 15 kilometers, depending on their age division.

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