Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Aleck Gantic pushes away to start his workout Thursday afternoon at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs. Gantic and the rest of the high school's Nordic ski team will race for the first time this season Saturday in Vail.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Saturday at Vail
Jan. 10 at Snow Mountain Classic Race
Jan. 22 at Frisco Duatholon Race
Jan. 28 at Eldora Race
Feb. 5 at Nederland Skate Race
Feb. 7 at Devil's Thumb Skate Race
Feb. 19-20 state championships at Leadville/Ski Cooper
Steamboat Springs The start of the high school Nordic skiing season is just a day away, but that doesn't mean Steamboat Springs coach Chrissy Lynch has any idea what to expect when her athletes take to the snow Saturday in their first race at Vail.
"It's hard to know exactly what to aim for this year, with all our new people," Lynch said. "Over the course of a season, athletes this age can improve so much - and the kids are all super athletes."
Referencing last year's team certainly won't help much. In addition to losing many of its top racers to graduation, the Steamboat squad finds itself without several of its top returning underclassmen as well. There appears to be plenty of eager feet to fill the ski boots, however.
Sarah Dixson will be back after being one of 12 skiers to make state last year. She's eyeing more than just a return to state, however, and will be competing again in both the Alpine and Nordic skiing divisions in search of the coveted Skimeister title.
"It means double the amount of practices, double the effort and double the races," Lynch said. "She's a strong Alpine skier and getting stronger all the time in Nordic. She'll do well this year."
Also returning from last year's state contingent are Liza Stout and Jasper Gantick.
An unexpected boost, Lynch said, may come from a group of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club racers crossing over to ski for the high school.
"They will compete for the school this season as much as they can," Lynch said. "It varies from year to year how many club skiers we get, but this year, we're lucky to have a lot of young racers motivated to compete for their high school."
Workouts have been limited early this season because of Steamboat's inconsistent snowfall, so Lynch hasn't had many chances to see her young team on the snow. They've logged some time near Howelsen Hill and some at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center. Trips to ski atop Rabbit Ears Pass are difficult because of the short days.
Those difficulties have done little to temper Lynch's enthusiasm.
"It's a great group of kids," she said. "We don't have a ton of seniors or a lot of our top performing skiers from last year, but a team like this shows what's great about high school sports. It will be a fun year."