Baden leads Steamboat skiers

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— Steamboat skier Lexie Baden finished third overall among 13-year-olds at the J3 Junior Olympics at Vail Mountain, despite missing her initial qualifying event due to illness.

Twelve other Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes qualified through an event at Winter Park, but Baden had to compete at the Council Cup at Ski Cooper to earn her ticket.

Once at Vail, she made good, finishing 25th in super G, 14th in giant slalom and 11th in slalom for the overall third-place rank.

Ciar Colgan also had a strong week with top-10 finishes in all four events, finishing sixth overall in the series.

Sarah White captured top-10 finishes in the giant slalom and slalom. Hannah Young, Ali Pougiales, Natalie Pearl, Julia Cooper, Cassady Daley, Katie Hostetler and Gracie Whelihan also qualified and had top-20 and top-30 finishes.

Only three SSWSC men qualified for the Junior Olympics this year, though they certainly made their presence known.

Connor Bernard had two top-20 finishes in the downhill and super G. Jeff Gay started way back, placed in the 60s and 70s in each race, but finished 14th place in giant slalom and moved up to 13th after his first run of slalom. The massive movement earned Gay the BIBBO Award for the week, which is given to the athlete who moves up the most positions throughout the series. It also translated into a pair of brand new Volkl race skis.

Tommy Lyon started the week with a top-15 downhill finish and started skiing better as the week progressed, securing a spot on the podium in the slalom, finishing in third place.

"Overall, these athletes have worked extremely hard throughout the course of the season and represented Steamboat well on and off the race courses," coach Lindsay Mann said.

Most of the J3 athletes will travel to Winter Park at the end of March and then to Loveland in April to complete their season.

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