New coach, big goals for Steamboat Nordic squad | SteamboatToday.com

New coach, big goals for Steamboat Nordic squad

— A decade ago, Harry Niedl couldn't have imagined himself the head coach of the Steamboat Springs High School Nordic skiing team, and it didn't have anything to do with maturity, dealing with teenagers or keeping to a practice schedule.

A decade ago, Niedl didn't even Nordic ski himself.

After years moonlighting for the Steamboat Ski Touring Center, the ambitious Austrian has picked up plenty about the sport, and this year he hopes to lead Steamboat skiers to big success.

"To become a coach has been a dream for years. I thought more of it with running, that it could be a better fit for me, but here I am, the head coach," Niedl said. "I'm pretty excited. We have a strong team."

Niedl is convinced he walked into the right situation.

The girls team is led by junior Natalie Bohlmann, who was fourth and 10th in her two Nordic races at the high school state meet a year ago en route to all-state honors.

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She's one of 20 Sailors on the team this year, evenly split between 10 boys and 10 girls.

"The girls especially have a chance of winning state this year," Niedl said. "We can really be good this year. We've already improved a lot of the first couple of weeks of practice."

So far the team has been hammering the technical aspects of the sport, working on form.

"We've been going back to the foundation and building it back up, helping each other," he said.

That work will get a big early test.

The team kicks off its season Saturday with a trip to Grand County and a race at Snow Mountain Ranch, between Granby and Winter Park. The Sailors will be looking for a fast start in a huge field. The race, a mass-start, skate-skiing event, will feature more than 100 skiers in each the boys and the girls races.

That race is the team's only event of 2014. It will jump back into action in January with a trip to Eldora on Jan. 10.