Sailors skiers head to state at Ski Cooper

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— There are many ways to measure the strong season the Steamboat Springs High School skiing team has enjoyed.

Few sent the message as clearly as a glance at the Howelsen Hill parking lot Wednesday.

Cars jammed to get into the parking lot as parents dropped off their skiers. Students crammed skis, bags and supplies into every nook and cranny of not only one small bus, but also a large, full-size school bus.

It was far from frustrating to Steamboat Alpine skiing coach Kate Warner.

"It's great," she said, helping the team load up for the state championships, which start today at Ski Cooper. "We have a lot of great skiers going with us."

The Alpine team's massive entry list includes 23 skiers.

"I'm excited," said senior Sarah Dixson, who wrapped up what likely will be second place in the Skimeister competition last weekend.

Final results for that event, which scores skiers in Alpine and Nordic races all season, will be released at the end of the state championships.

"All the Skimeister races are finished, so there's no pressure this weekend," she said. "I can just go out now, relax and ski as fast as I can. I just want to ski the best I have all season and feel good about my finishes."

Dixson will be the only Steamboat competitor to race in all four state events: giant slalom, slalom, Nordic classic skiing and skate skiing.

"States is my favorite, especially this year because they're at Ski Cooper," GS and slalom skier Jamie Gay said. "Most people don't like Ski Cooper because it's so flat, but we love it. Everyone else is moaning and groaning, and we go out and ski really well."

Dixson and Gay will be joined in Alpine races by Connor Bernard, Matthew Dennis, Mark Dennis, Jasper Gantick, Jeffrey Gay, Sam Glaisher, Connor Herbison, Tommy Lyon, Ben Paley, Eric Samuelson, Tim Scalo, Alex Schaffer, Hunter Willis, Daniel Wright, Martha Anderson, Hanna Berglund, Julia Cooper, Cassady Daley, Linnea Dixson, Mallory Hoots and Lorin Paley.

Nordic skiers feel at home

The venue couldn't have fit the Steamboat Springs High School Nordic team any better during the Colorado State Skiing Championships.

The course at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville is very similar to where the Sailors train every day at Howelsen Hill.

"It's all in the trees," Steamboat coach Chrissy Lynch said. "It's very rolly, with lots of uphills (and) quick downhills. It suits us well when we train at Howelsen. We get the same quick ups and downs. Plus we'll be strong on the climbs. I think it will be great."

Lynch and the other 11 skiers who qualified for the state meet left mid-day Wednesday to get to the course and inspect it.

The event opens at 9 a.m. today with the girls 5-kilometer classic event.

The boys will follow. The championships conclude Friday with a 3 p.m. skate race.

Lynch said the key for Steamboat will be to remain healthy, as the team has battled sickness all week.

Jack Burger, Jasper Gantick, Eva Lambek, Erik Lynch, Liza Stout, Michael Ward and Sarah Dixson all qualified in both events. Cassady Daley, Katherine Lynch, Zeb Tipton and Jake Barker qualified for the skate race, while Lucy Franklin qualified in the classic race.

"I think it's pretty good because we've just got a team that's been improving all year long," she said. "It's the final competition, and I think we're ready to do our best and have a good event."

For updates and race results visit www.leadvillenordic.org.

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