Steamboat skiers receive top finishes

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— Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club J1 girls skiers Mary O’Connell and Emily Hannah paced Steamboat skiers Friday in the final individual event of the 2011 cross-country Junior Nationals in Minneapolis.

On a blazing-fast course, O’Connell was fifth and Hannah was seventh in a 5-kilometer classic interval start.

Michaela Frias, one competition after a second-place finish, was 14th, Haley Piske was 17th, and Lucy Newman was 47th.

“It was quite fast,” coach Brian Tate said. “I’m not sure if I’ve seen faster times out of a 5K and 10K from juniors.”

In the J1 boys 10-kilometer interval start, Charlie Von Thaden was 13th, and Max Scrimgeour was 37th.

In the J2 girls 5-kilometer race, Madison Keeffe was 13th, Madison Ruppel was 16th, Gretchen Burkholder was 25th, Cara Piske was 37th, Dori McNeill was 40th, and Gabriel Bohlmann was 44th.

Evan Weinman paced the Steamboat J2 boys with a 14th-place finish.

The Junior Nationals conclude today with a classic relay competition. The relay will consist of three skiers each skiing 3 kilometers. Frias, O’Connell and Hannah will make up one team.

“It’s on the shorter side, so it will be pretty exciting to watch,” Tate said. “I think the racers will be in closer contact than years past. Now it will be a little tighter pack.”

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