Fast finishes earn skiers a spot in the ‘Boat |

Fast finishes earn skiers a spot in the ‘Boat

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

— Thanks to skiing well, a pack of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers earned the chance to come home.

OK, they'd have been allowed back in the vans no matter what, but nine U14 club Alpine skiers were fast enough in Crested Butte last weekend to earn spots in the U14 Rocky/Central Junior Championships, which are to be contested March 16 to 20 in Steamboat Springs.

They skied fast, and now, they'll get to ski at home.

The team will send five girls forward, including Ryli Adrian, Emilia Cooper, Natalia Tatge, Marissa Drobek and Annika Ort. It will also send four boys, Cooper Puckett, Jordan Simon, Alden Wade and Colin Kagan.

The team competed at the 37th annual Prater Cup in Crested Butte.

"The kiddos actually skied quite well," club U14 coach Erik Gilbert said. "That's the primary qualifying week of races, so it's a lot of pressure on a 12- or 13-year-old."

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Puckett helped lead the way. He won four different races — two giant slaloms and two slaloms. He was also second in a super-G.

Simon, meanwhile, was fifth twice and ninth once, all in GS.

"Technically, Cooper is skiing really strong," Gilbert said. "He's been one of the stronger U14s in the division for the last couple of years and now he's skiing strong and with a lot of confidence.

"Jordan had some bobbles in the tech events, but in GS and super-G, he's got great groundspeed and can really push Cooper, so that's good," Gilbert added.

Adrian was second and third in a pair of slalom races, then fourth in a super-G and also fourth in a giant slalom.

Tatge was fourth in a GS. Emilia Cooper was sixth and 10th in GS and 10th in slalom.

"Those three girls, they've been pushing each other all season," Gilbert said. "Ryli has been struggling with finding consistency, but she's skiing better than she has all year. The kids are feeling good."

The rest of the team will have one more chance to qualify, this weekend at Ski Cooper for the Council Cup. The top three racers from boys and girls will earn a spot at the Steamboat event.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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