The season came to a close Sunday for many Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic combined athletes, as the club hosted the North American Junior Championships and the Western Regional National Championships at Howelsen Hill.
Although the weekend's action brought fans and athletes from all across the U.S. and from as far as Canada, some of the most intense competition came from a few local skiers.
Steamboat's Brett Denney edged out his teammate, Taylor Fletcher, to win the North American Junior Championship's men's division.
Fletcher entered the event as the two-time defending champion and held a slight lead after the jumping portion of the event. Denney managed to catch up on the cross-country ski section, however. His time on the 10-kilometer course was nearly 30 seconds faster, and that proved enough to bump him into the lead.
"Brett is one of our most improved athletes," Winter Sports Club Nordic program director Todd Wilson said. "Taylor has been dominant for a few years, so this competition is great."
Karin Friberg, of Minnesota, won the women's Nordic combined North American Junior Championships. Sarah Hendrickson, of Park City, Utah, won the North American jumping event, ahead of Friberg.
Eric Mitchell, of Canada, won the men's jumping event, ahead of Cooper Dodds and Matthew Rowley.
Sierra Good, Teague Burger, Tatum Burger, Noel Keeffe, Natalie Bohlmann, Koby Vargas, Madison Keeffe, Ben Berend, Emily Hannah and Erik Lynch all won their age divisions of the Nordic combined Western Regional Championships event.
Smartt qualifies for state
One meet into the season, the Hayden High School track team already has a state qualifier.
Hayden junior Murphy Smartt finished second in the long jump at a meet in Delta, leaping 6 feet, 2 inches and pre-qualifying for the state meet.
"That's great for him," Hayden coach Barbara Manzanares said. "He had a great season last year, but it all fell apart at regionals, and he didn't make state."
The Tigers sent a small team to the meet, as several athletes still were competing with the girls basketball team at the state tournament in Pueblo, and others recently had finished with the boys basketball team.
The Delta meet had 22 teams, including many Class 3A and 4A schools.
Several Hayden athletes still managed to place high.
Rene Valdez was sixth in the boys high jump. Jake Walker was seventh in the 100-meter dash. Treyben Letlow was fifth in triple jump, and Logan Foster was seventh in the shot put.
On the girls side, Aubree Haskins was seventh in the triple jump and 11th in the shot put, and Taylor Petersen was sixth in long jump and eighth in high jump.
"They all did pretty well for the first meet out," Manzanares said.
The team travels to Hotchkiss next weekend.
Thurston still moving
Oak Creek musher Tom Thurston pulled into a checkpoint for the Iditarod dogsled race at Grayling, Alaska, at about 3 p.m. Alaskan Standard Time on Sunday afternoon. He had yet to depart for the next checkpoint, at Eagle Island, as of Sunday evening.
Thurston has less than 500 miles remaining in the 1,100-mile trek across Alaska.