Steamboat Springs Even Wiley Thayer was caught off guard.
The Steamboat Springs Nordic and Alpine skier admits he's most known for his skills on his telemark skis. But on Friday at the Colorado High School Activities Association State Ski Championships, Thayer showed he's equally impressive when his heels are in place.
Thayer led Steamboat Springs' giant slalom charge, finishing with a combined, two-run time of 1 minute and 38.1 seconds, good for fifth place and less than four seconds behind overall winner Zach Fretz of Summit High School.
Summit took the team giant slalom title, edging Steamboat by 8 points, 170 to 162. Evergreen finished third with 158 points.
"My goal coming in was just to ski clean and finish for the team," Thayer said. "Normally I telemark ski, so I put on some Alpine skis to help out the team. I was pretty surprised after my first run. I didn't really expect to be third after the first run. I expected to be, maybe, top 10."
Thayer used his telemarking experience to navigate a first run that gave much of the field fits. Four boys and 15 girls did not finish the first run on the slick See Me course at Steamboat Ski Area.
But where the herky-jerky course caused problems for some skiers, Thayer excelled.
"The first course didn't have a lot of rhythm about it," Thayer said. "It was kind of all over the place, but I like that. I felt all over the place. When you feel crazy, it's fast."
Jace Wirth put together two solid runs to finish seventh in giant slalom with a combined time of 1:38.7.
Wirth said in the first course it was a matter of picking the right line, whereas in the second course - where the run was more straight - it was about maintaining speed over the knoll and into the flatter bottom section of See Me.
"I'm not very good in G.S., so I'm pretty happy," Wirth said. "I just wanted to have fun. I know I'm capable of top three but I'm pretty happy where I'm at."
Kris Allen at 1:39.7, Ben Paley at 142.1, Mark Dennis at 1:42.7, Jeffery Gay at 1:45.6, and Daniel Wright at 1:46.4 and Lars Berglund at 1:48.2 all helped the Steamboat cause.
Summit's Fretz followed up his Thursday slalom win with another top podium finish in the giant slalom. Summit teammate Drew Beling finished second at 1:36.6.
Girls take third
The Steamboat girls finished third in the giant slalom with 146 team points. Battle Mountain won the team event with 170 points. Summit finished second with 163 points.
Steamboat junior Jamie Gay turned her hard week of practice into a 10th-place finish. Gay had been training giant slalom on the See Me course for three days leading up to the state competition.
"It's been great all three days," Gay said. "I've just been ripping G.S. It was soft, but we train for that, too. You just adjust for what you have."
The tough luck of the day went to Steamboat Springs senior Jenny Allen. She was ripping her first run when she got a little wide on a gate and had to hike back up the slope.
"It got a little turny at the bottom and I wasn't ready for it," Allen said of her first run. "But it's OK. I hiked up and went around and finished. I still had a lot of fun."
And despite the setback, Allen still made the top 30 for the second run.
On Allen's second time down See Me, she showed why she's an elite skier. Allen blew down the course in 47.8 seconds, the fastest girls giant slalom run of the day.
Battle Mountain's Jenny Banner won the girls giant slalom after finishing first in the slalom. Evergreen's Keeli Zigich finished second, and Summit's Erin Breslin finished third.
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