Steamboat Springs In five years as the Steam-boat Springs Winter Sports Club's head cross-country ability coach, Brian Tate has not seen the team qualify so many athletes for the Junior Olympics.
"Eight is a lot, plus two alternates," Tate said. "That's pretty much all of them."
Rocky Mou-ntain Nordic announced its 42-member Jun-ior Olympic team after the seventh and eighth (of eight) qualifying races of the season. The last events were held Friday and Saturday in Crested Butte.
"I think we look good," Tate said about his team's chances at the 2007 Chevrolet USSA Junior Olympics from March 3 to 10 in Soldier Hollow, Utah. "One of the benefits is that the race is above 5,000 feet. Our kids were raised, live or train here and should do a little better than kids coming up from sea level."
Tate's team leaves Friday for the national competition that matches 11 regional teams of J2 (ages 15 and 16) or older kids from across the country in four events - a skate sprint, a mass-start skate, an individual start classic, and a three-person classic relay.
Tate plans to reduce the volume and up the intensity of workouts this week to improve his team's speed, but believes his athletes should do well on a course they have already raced.
At the two-day Crested Butte event, Steamboat's performances were highlighted by first-place wins Friday in the skate sprint event from Katherine Ingalls and Carter Miller. On Saturday, Ingalls and Dori McNeil won the individual start classic races. In all, Steamboat grabbed 15 podium finishes.
Tate mentioned Miller's win as his first of the season as well as the superb efforts from Michaela Frias and Ben Kerrigan, whose second-place finishes Saturday also served as their season's best.
Steamboat Springs Nordic athletes were not the only ones making waves in Crested Butte during the weekend. Steamboat's Francesca Pavillard-Cain repeated as the female junior champion at the U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships, which ended Saturday in Crested Butte. The 15-year-old skier from the Winter Sports Club's telemark freeskier program had two solid qualifying runs to put her into the finals, where another pair of runs earned her a score of 95.
"With girls from Canada and California, there was way more competition this year, and I felt the pressure," said Pavillard-Cain, who put her Alpine skis to work on a technical final run featuring three big airs. "I felt like, in choosing lines and looking at the competition and at my last line the last day, that I was really pushing myself and landing my biggest airs in competition."
Pavillard-Cain was the only Steamboat competitor at the 16th annual event.
SSWSC Athletes on the RMN Junior Olympic Team:
Paul Rose, Marty Smith, Missy Krause, Sophie Leonard, Mary Rose, Katherine Ingalls, Molly Newman, Carter Miller, Liza Stout (alternate), Gus Allen (alternate)