It was a big week for local skiers at the U.S. Cross-Country Nationals at Solider Hollow, Utah, as several Steamboat Springs Nordic skiers managed to glide their way to the top of their races.
That success will now define the rest of the winter for several athletes.
For the second straight year, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club alumni Mary O’Connell and Emily Hannah earned spots on the U.S. team at the World Junior Cross-Country Championships, to be held later this month in the Czech Republic.
Gretchen Burkholder and Evan Weinman, meanwhile, earned the chance to travel to Norway to train and compete with the U.S. Ski Team.
“I’m so proud of the way our program has developed and been able to inspire kids to work harder and more focused toward their goals,” coach Brian Tate said. “We are on a high with our program. Last year we had a breakthrough, and now this year is even better.”
Skiers were chosen for the U.S. team in the World Junior Cross-Country Championships and the U.S. Ski Team's Norway trip based on cumulative results from the multi-day competition in Utah.
O’Connell got the best of the last day of racing in Utah. She led throughout much of a 5-kilometer mass-start U19 classic race. She was edged in the final stretch, but she still finished second.
Burkholder, meanwhile, finished eighth overall and first among the J1 skiers.
“Quite honestly, we have looked to her as a good skier, but we had no idea she would rise to the level she did,” Tate said about Burkholder. “She was in the mix in every single race and Sunday, about 1.5K into the race, she pulled ahead of the field and was in the lead. For a 16-year-old against that deep of a field, that was shocking.”
Haley Piske was 11th, Lucy Newman was 13th, Madison Keeffe was 16th (fourth among J1 skiers), Emily Hannah was 29th and Dori McNeill was 61st.
Max Scrimgeour was tops among Steamboat-connected skiers in a 10K mass-start U19 classic race. He finished sixth overall racing for the Vail Ski Club. University of Colorado skier Charlie Von Thaden was 20th, Weinman was 28th overall and fifth in J1, Lars Hannah was 40th overall and 10th among J1 skiers, and Tanner Heil was 90th.