Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs High School cross-country ski coach Chrissy Lynch believes the Sailors cross-over skiers - those who compete for both the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club as well as their high school - are a key component to helping the Sailors raise their overall ability level as they head into their first competition of the season Saturday in Vail.
"The synergy works so well, they really help each other and it's why the kids - those that just came out or the kids from last year that have improved so much - have improved so quickly," Lynch said.
Saturday's event will also be a Rocky Mountain Nordic divisional race and the second of seven junior Olympic-qualifying races for the handful of high school racers who will be alongside their teammates from the Winter Sports Club.
Brian Tate, SSWSC's head cross-country ability coach, said his team will be heading out today to race in the first JO qualifier, a mass-start skate event today in Vail.
Tate's racers are coming off a successful first round of competition last weekend at a pair of National Ranking List events in Frisco.
"It was an extremely hard, energy-consuming course with not a lot of rest at 9,000 feet," Tate said of the Saturday skate and Sunday classic events that brought some of the top collegiate racers from across the region alongside Steamboat's junior racers.
Steamboat racers including William Kerrigan (J5) and Lucy Newman (J3) took home race wins, while racers including Olivia Rose (J4), Tess Richey (J4), Mallory Richey (J4), Max Scrimgeour (J3), Michaela Frias (J2), Mary Rose (J1), Missy Krause (J1) and Carter Miller (J1) landed on the podium.
"I think it's a combination of determination on their part and a good training effort through the summer and fall," Tate said of the strong start.
Meanwhile, Steamboat Springs High School's Alpine ski team opens its season today with a giant slalom event at Copper Mountain.