Steamboat skiers ride a Wave “rly” to top junior national finishes in Soldier Hollow | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat skiers ride a Wave “rly” to top junior national finishes in Soldier Hollow

Waverly Gebhardt posted the fastest time in Tuesday's 5-kilometer classic race at the 2018 Junior National Cross Country Championships, which were held at the Soldier Hollow Nordic complex in Utah.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs cross-country skier Waverly Gebhardt stepped into the spotlight Tuesday on the opening day of the 2018 U.S. Junior Nationals Championships, which were held at the Olympic venue in Soldier Hollow in Utah.

She made the most of her moment.

"On this stage, for her to do that, that's big kudos to her," said Brian Tate, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's cross-country program director. "I think she just got fired up and wanted to prove to herself and to others that she is a quality athlete."

Gebhardt not only won the junior national title in the U18 age class but also posted the fastest time of the day overall.

She completed the 5-kilometer classic race in 15 minutes, 10.5 seconds. She was followed by Novie McCabe, of Methow Valley Nordic Ski Education Foundation, who finished second at 15:12.8, and Molly Gellert, of Alaska Winter Stars, who was third at 15:13.1. All three of those skiers competed in the U18 age class for skiers born between 2000 and 2001.

Other top Steamboat athletes in the womens U18 race included Sadie Cotton in 12th at 16:11.5 and Avery Harrington in 48th at 17:36.

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The U20 division for skiers born between 1998 and 1999 was won by Annika Landis, of Middlebury College, who finished with a time of 15:49.7. Steamboat Springs skier Jordi Floyd, who is a sophomore at Montana State University, was second at 16:10.9, and Rena Schwartz, of Green Mountain Valley School in New England, was third at 16:25.4.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club racer Dasha Kuznetsova was fourth with a time of 16:26.4, and Kathleen O'Connell, also a sophomore at Montana State, was eighth with a time of 16:33.5.

"I didn't expect this going in," Tate said of the top finishes. "I never imagined it. This array of results is pretty good."

Steamboat skiers also climbed onto the podium on the men's side.

Hunter Wonders, of Alaska, posted a time of 23:35.3 to take the top stair on the mens U20 podium following the 10-kilometer classic race. However, Steamboat was well represented with Noel Keeffe, who had the best distance race of his career, in second at 23:47.3 and Wyatt Gebhardt in third at 24:15.3.

In the U18 race, it was Ben Ogden, of the Stratton Mountain School, taking top honors with a time of 23:01.5. The top Steamboat finishers included Sven Tate in 23rd with a time of 25:27.4, Kieran Hahn in 39th with a time of 26:34.1 and Jimmy Colfer in 44th with a time of 26:50.3.

Will Koch, of the Stratton Mountain School, topped the U16 mens division that competed on a shorter 5-kilometer track with a time of 13:26.1. Top Steamboat finishers included Wally Magill in fifth at 14:01 and Sumner Cotton in sixth at 14:01.6. The skiers in the U16 division were born between 2002 and 2003.

Racing at the 2018 Junior National Championships will continue Wednesday with skiers competing in the freestyle sprint races, where skiers must advance through brackets by placing first or second in each heat on a short cross-country course.

“I think this momentum will carry through the week. I think they were are a little down in the dumps after Alaska (at the U.S. National Championships),” Tate said. “They felt like they should have done better there, so they came in here with a little chip on their shoulder.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.