Steamboat's Schwartz leads on strong day for local skiers

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— It takes an experienced eye to distinguish between most of the best moguls runs at any given freestyle skiing competition, events usually decided by fractions of a second and the details of a particular skier’s style through the bumps.

On Saturday, someone new not just to moguls but even to snow could have picked out Steamboat’s Sophia Schwartz as the winner of a women’s Rocky Mountain Division freestyle competition at Steamboat Ski Area.

The time obviously was faster and her style clearly was better. As the only women’s competitor to throw a back flip, the tricks set her apart, as well.

“I skied a good first run, so it felt good to have a little bit of a gap, but (coach Rob Day) told me I should be taking two more seconds off my run,” Schwartz said. “I just focused on relaxing and skiing a little faster.”

Schwartz cut those two seconds and had the fastest time down the course, 27.81 seconds on her second run. That was nearly a second faster than anyone else. She had, by far, the highest points for her airs, as well, and it added up to 24.31 points.

Keaton McCargo, of Telluride, finished second at 23.66, and Steamboat’s Avital Shimko was third with 23.12.

“She was ripping. She had a great summer of training and really worked on her jumps, and she’s out with a vengeance now,” Day said about Schwartz “It’s really coming together for her.”

She wasn’t the only Steamboat resident who tore up the course. Shimko had one of her best days and earned the podium. Lane Stoltzner was fifth, and Jaelin Kauf was eighth for Steamboat.

Tori Hill finished 36th for Steamboat, Mariell Feilinger was 45th and Philippa Sparrow was 53rd.

Michael Degrandis served up the top performance on the men’s side. He tied for third on points, but he was pushed to fourth by a tiebreaker.

“The men’s field was pretty tough, and Michael skied well,” Day said.

Bradley Hoefer was 11th, George Degrandis was 18th, Zach Rosa was 40th, Angus Hill was 58th and Tyler Strnad was 65th.

The action resumes Sunday with a dual moguls competition at Steamboat Ski Area.

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