Meg O'Connell skis Saturday in a high school cross-country race at Steamboat Ski Touring Center in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Meg O'Connell skis Saturday in a high school cross-country race at Steamboat Ski Touring Center in Steamboat Springs.

Sailors Nordic skiers race against large field, themselves Saturday

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— There’s just something different about an interval start race.

The five kilometers of trail at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center were filled Saturday with athletes, nearly 200 high school skiers taking part in a Nordic skiing race hosted by Steamboat Springs High School. Still for the day’s racers in the classic skiing event, it could be a lonely experience out on the trail. They were competing against dozens of others, yes, but truly against only themselves as they strove for the best time.

It was a good day for Steamboat Springs skiers as they successfully pushed themselves to fast times.

“You’re racing against yourself,” said Peter White, Steamboat’s top finisher in the boys race.

He was ninth.

“It takes a little more self motivation because you have to push yourself,” he said.

Interval start races launch each skier at a set time, and they are ranked by their overall time. There certainly still was plenty of passing, and while there still can be a sprint to the finish, there’s no way to know at the time whether a skier passed enough opponents or that sprint will pay off with a high place.

It’s a battle of the brain as much as the brawn.

“That’s the hard thing about this race,” said Steamboat’s Natalie Bohlmann, the eighth place finisher on the girls side. “You don’t really know. You can’t worry about anyone else because it’s such an individual thing.”

The key for the athletes is upstairs, in their heads.

White said he tries to keep his mind as blank as possible when he races. That means no song lyrics reverberating in his head, no mantra pushing him forward. It’s just focus on skiing, maintaining a rhythm and getting to the end.

When he did reach the finish, he was plenty happy with his results.

“I felt good today,” he said. “I was sick last weekend and didn’t get to race, so I’m coming off that. This is our home course, so it’s nice to come here and do well.”

Overall, the boys team was tied with Aspen for fifth with 136 points. Summit won the day with 175 points, Battle Mountain was second and Eagle Valley was third.

Steamboat got other strong finishes from Tanner Visnick, 15th; Andreas Foulk, 34th; Tristan Fischer, 37th and Ben Lingle, 49th.

Henry Trowbridge, of Summit, won the race in 15:16. Joel Sawyer, also of Summit, was second, and Luk Platil, of Evergreen, was third.

Lark Skov was the top Steamboat skier in the girls race, finishing fifth. Meg O’Connell had a strong race, finishing 12th. Linnea Zink wasn’t far behind in 15th. Eliza Leeson was 19th;Mariah Hoots, 41st; and Leah Rowse, 48th.

Vail Mountain School skier Hannah Hardenbergh was first in 18:09. Ruthie Boyd, of Summit, was second, and her teammate, Christa Gutzel was third.

Summit won the girls team event, with 168 points. Vail Mountain was second with 167, and Steamboat finished third with 158 points.

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