Steamboat Springs Six Steamboat Springs skiers and two coaches have made the cut for this winter's cross-country skiing junior Olympics as part of Rocky Mountain Nordic's team of 42 junior athletes and 10 coaches headed to the event.
Brian Tate, head cross-country ability coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, said the announcement was made after the final qualifying races Saturday at the Durango Nordic Center.
Michaela Frias, Mary Rose, Sophie Leonard, Melissa Krause, Molly Newman and Ian Mallams will travel to the 2008 USSA Cross Country Junior Olympic Championships, March 10 to 15 in Anchorage, Alaska. Frias is at the young end of the group as a first-year J2, for 14- and 15-year-old competitors. Mallams will race in the OJ division, for 18- and 19-year-olds. The rest of the girls are J1 skiers, ages 16 and 17.
Tate said he hopes the skiers will gain valuable competition experience and shoot for a top-10 national finish at the four JO races - and enjoy the surroundings of the Alaskan Nordic culture.
"They really embrace Nordic skiing and do a great job, where it's a whole different environment from the enthusiasm to the spectators at a bigger level," said Tate, who was selected to help coach the RMN team along with SSWSC coach Travis Jones.
Although qualification hinges on a skier's best four races, no Steamboat skiers who qualified Saturday needed to wait for the last race to put their points over the top. However, at Saturday's single race, a 5K mass-start classic, Steamboat still earned more than a few age-class podium finishes. Mallams took second in the OJ Boys Division, Leonard took third in J1 Girls, Max Scrimgeour took a close second in J3 Boys, Lucy Newman took second in J3 Girls, Olivia Rose took a close second in J4 Girls and William Kerrigan took second in J5 Boys.
The Colorado Cup - which awards the club with the most cumulative team points throughout the season - went to the Durango Nordic Ski Club. Steamboat finished in third out of the RMN's 10 Colorado clubs.