Steamboat Springs racer Haley Piske races at a Junior Olympic qualifier at Soldier Hollow in Utah during the weekend.

Nick Rose/Courtesy Photo

Steamboat Springs racer Haley Piske races at a Junior Olympic qualifier at Soldier Hollow in Utah during the weekend.

Nordic skiers test skills

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club racers grab top results in Utah

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Soldier Hollow Junior Olympic Qualifier

Cross-country skiing

Soldier Hollow, Utah

Sprint races — Jan. 29

J1/OJ boys

18. Peter Daley

29. Eliot Neal

73. Charlie Von Thaden

J2 boys

1. Max Scrimgeour

22. Evan Weinman

41. Tanner Heil

J1/OJ girls

5. Michaela Frias

8. Haley Piske

12. Molly Newman

20. Betsy Neal

J2 Girls

3. Emily Hannah

6. Madison Keeffe

7. Dori McNeill

10. Lucy Newman

11. Mary O’Connell

15. Mallory Richey

27. Madison Ruppel

31. Cara Piske

Mass start skate race — Jan. 29

J3 boys

9. Lars Hannah

J4 boys

3. Frank Ruppel

4. Evan Barbier

7. Tyler Terranova

17. Charlie Harrington

J5 boys

1. Sven Tate

J6 boys

6. Silas Leeson

J3 girls

2. Gretchen Burkholder

3. Olivia Rose

4. Abbey Habermehl

10. Katie Brodie

11. Sam Terranova

25. Sabina Berend

28. Eliza Leeson

29. CC Wheeler

J4 girls

14. Lark Skov

16. Sydney Boyd

17. Surina Techarukpong

20. Harriet Leeson

J5 girls

1. Avery Harrington

Mass start classic — Jan. 30

J1/OJ boys

37. Eliot Neal

38. Peter Daley

83. Charlie Von Thaden

J2 boys

7. Max Scrimgeour

20. Evan Weinman

41. Tanner Heil

J3 boys

23. Lars Hannah

J4 boys

4. Evan Barbier

5. Frank Ruppel

12. Tyler Terranova

15. Charlie Harrington

J5 boys

1. Sven Tate

J6 boys

9. Silas Leeson

J1/OJ girls

2. Michaela Frias

3. Haley Piske

5. Betsy Neal

23. Molly Newman

J2 girls

4. Lucy Newman

10. Mary O’Connell

13. Emily Hannah

15. Dori McNeill

23. Maddie Ruppel

27. Mallory Richey

28. Madison Keeffe

37. Cara Piske

J3 girls

1. Katie Brodie

2. Gretchen Burkholder

3. Abbey Habermehl

J4 girls

10. Lark Skov

13. Sydney Boyd

19. Surina Techarukpong

20. Harriet Leeson

J5 girls

1. Avery Harrington

J6 girls

5. Anna Terranova

7. Elise Barbier

9. Sydney Barbier

— Getting to the finals of the skate sprint event at the Junior Olympic qualifier, which was held at the Soldier Hollow 2002 Winter Olympics venue in Utah on Friday, was no easy feat.

The races drew a field of 643 racers, including top college racers and at least one current Olympian. Most of the racers were racing for the same goal — a spot at this March’s 2010 Junior National Championships, which will be held in Presque Isle, Maine.

“I think it’s a really cool opportunity to race on the Olympic courses, ” Steamboat Springs High School junior Michaela Frias said. “These races always draw a huge field, and they are always a lot of fun. ”

Frias finished second in Saturday’s mass-start, 5-kilometer race at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Ski Center in Midway, Utah, and had the chance to go head to head with Caitlin Compton, who was recently named to the U.S. Olympic squad. She also finished fifth in the sprint event in the J1 division.

“The classic race was really cool,” Frias said. “It was great to be on the same course with an Olympic athlete. ”

Frias finished almost two minutes behind the top American racer, who she characterized as being in a different class, but that didn’t matter to the Steamboat racer.

“I’m not with her right now,” Frias said. “But who knows? Hopefully I will be in that class a couple of years from now. ”

On Friday, the older racers competed in a sprint race that included a 1.3-kilometer qualifying time trial and several heats just to get to the finals. The top two racers from each heat advanced until there was a single heat composed of the top six racers.

Steamboat’s Max Scrimgeour qualified for the sprint event in first place and then managed to win all three heats en route to winning the J2 boys class.

“It helps when you can qualify first,” Scrimgeour said. “When you have the top spot, then it’s usually easier to make it through the heats. But each heat keeps getting harder and harder. ”

The younger racers took part in a mass-start skate race instead of the sprints. The length of the courses depended on the age of the athletes in the class.

“The size of each group was considerably larger than our Colorado divisional races,” coach Brian Tate said. “In some cases, the divisions were four times as large. ”

Steamboat got top finishes from Avery Harrington, who took first place in the J5 girls division, and Sven Tate, who won the J5 boys division.

Steamboat also made a mark in the J4 boys division, where Frank Ruppel was third, Evan Barbier was fourth and Tyler Terranova was seventh.

The J3 girls also picked up the first of two impressive showings at the event. Gretchen Burkholder was second in Friday’s race with Olivia Rose in third and Abbey Habermehl in fourth. Katie Brodie was 10th. Lars Hannah was ninth in the J3 boys division.

Steamboat also racked up top finishes in Saturday’s mass-start classic races.

Top finishes came from Harrington, who was first in the J5 girls division, and Tate, who was first in the J5 boys division. Barbier was fourth and Ruppel was fifth in the J4 boys division.

For the second straight day, the J3 girls dominated the division with Brodie taking first, Burkholder taking second and Habermehl taking third.

In the older classes, Lucy Newman collected fourth in the J2 girls division, and Scrimgeour was seventh in the J2 boys divison. Frias was second (third in the overall results), Piske was third and Betsy Neal was fifth in the J1 girls division.

Steamboat took a record number of athletes — 45 — to the Utah races. Frias isn’t sure what has caused the explosion of interest in cross-country skiing at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, but she said it’s been a refreshing change. She said having more skiers makes training better and the programs stronger.

“It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Nordic programs,” Frias said. “It’s pretty cool. ”

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