Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers Emily Hannah (5), Michaela Frias (16) and Mary O’Connell (25) race in the quarter finals of the skate sprint heat. Frias and Hannah went on to finish 11th and 12th, respectively, in the Women’s J1 division of the skate sprint races Monday in Minnapolis, Minn.

Tom Scrimgeour/Courtesy

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers Emily Hannah (5), Michaela Frias (16) and Mary O’Connell (25) race in the quarter finals of the skate sprint heat. Frias and Hannah went on to finish 11th and 12th, respectively, in the Women’s J1 division of the skate sprint races Monday in Minnapolis, Minn.

Steamboat skiers struggle in opening event at Junior Nationals

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— The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club cross-country team struggled with a long day Monday in the opening event of the United States Skiing Association Cross-Country Junior Nationals in Minneapolis.

The event, which brings the top OJ, J1 and J2 boys and girls competitors from across the country, began in the afternoon and continued through the evening in downtown Minneapolis.

“They held the semis and the finals at night,” Winter Sports Club coach Brian Tate said. “It was also in the center of Minneapolis, which is also a little bit different to be in the city with skyline right there. Having it at night made for a long day. It was crucial to rest and get warmed up again.”

Max Scrimgeour led the way for Steamboat in the sprint competition.

Scrimgeour finished ninth in the boys J1 division. Charlie Von Thaden, after running with the leaders for half the race before a fall, finished 27th.

“He skied really well,” Tate said about Scrimgeour. “Tactically, he skied well and carried good speed.”

In the J1 girls division, Emily Hannah was 11th, Michaela Frias was 12th, Haley Piske was 16th, Mary O’Connell was 18th and Lucy Newman was 48th.

Dori McNeill led the J2 girls with a 17th-place finish. Madison Ruppel was 23rd, Gretchen Burkholder was 25th, Madison Keeffe was 26th, Cara Piske was 35th and Gabriel Bohlmann was 50th.

Evan Weinman was 23rd in the boys J2 division.

Although Tate said he was expecting better results in the sprint, the race marked the most athletes Steamboat has ever qualified for the heat portion of the competition. Tate said the results could have been better had several skiers not been knocked down.

The Junior Nationals continue today with a classic mass start competition. Races begin at 8 a.m. and run until 2 p.m.

“I expect our division and Steamboat skiers to have better results,” Tate said about today’s competition. “Coming from altitude, we historically do better in the distance races. We expect better results in the classic mass start.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboattoday.com

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