Steamboat Springs High School Nordic skiers push toward state championships | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs High School Nordic skiers push toward state championships

Steamboat Springs skier Annika Malacinski, shown here at last year's state championships, placed second during the weekend in a freestyle race hosted by Battle Mountain at Maliot Park.

— With just two regular season races left in the season and the state high school skiing championships less than a month away, members of the Steamboat Springs High School Nordic ski team continue to improve their performances and chalk up top finishes.

"I would say this was far and away our best performance of the season with the girls taking fourth and boys taking third overall," coach Jesse Wilkins said of last weekend’s race. "As a team, our technique has gotten so much better over the past few weeks it’s hard to recognize some of us. Now, we just need to keep working on our conditioning, and we’ll really be able to finish the season strong."

The boys team skied to a third-place finish in a race hosted by Battle Mountain High School at Maloit Park. Middle Park won the meet by edging the hometown Huskies 173 to 172. Steamboat was third at 154 points, and Lake County came in fourth in the field of 13 men's teams.

Steamboat was fourth on the women's side finishing with a team score of 149. Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley tied for first with 169 points and Lake County was third with 158.

Steamboat's Annika Malacinski was second overall finishing at 18 minutes, 26 seconds. That was just four seconds behind Rose Sandell of Eagle Valley, who led the field with a time of 18:22.

Other top Steamboat finishers included Jenny Alder in 27th (23:02), Claire Traverse in 33rd (23:43) and Aubrey Rohde in 44th (25:25).

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The men's race was won by Middle Park racer Tyler Scholl, who set the pace in the 5K race with a time of 13:42. Steamboat's Tanner Richards was eighth at 15:48, Matai Curzonn was 13th at 16:15 and Gabe Rabenal was 14th at 16:36.

Other Steamboat racers placing ahead of the state-qualifying mark included James Bradley in 21st at 17:01, Andrew McCawley in 22nd at 17:05, Mich Meissner in 28th at 17:37, Quinn Wellman in 30th at 17:48, Alex Coffey in 33rd at 18:02 and Dane Freckleton in 36th at 18:13. The finishes helped Coffey and Freckleton qualify for state.

"The biggest performances of the day for boys were James Bradley in 21st, Alex Coffey in 33rd, and Dane Freckleton in 36th," the coach said. "The improvements out of those three guys over our last race a couple of weeks ago were phenomenal. Dane and Alex are also now part of our state-qualifier list. Eric Phalen also had a great race and just missed state this time around by less than 10 seconds. Eric is a first-year skier who works really hard and continues to improve."

Phalen was 47th (18:43) in the race. Teammates Ben Anderson, Aubrey Morrison and Wyatt Reynolds finished 53rd (19:18), 55th (19:19) and 78th (22:05), respectively.

The high school Nordic team will return to Maloit Park for a Same Day Pursuit race hosted by Vail Mountain School Feb. 4. The race is a combination freestyle and classic race. The regular season will come to a close the following weekend with a mass start classic race at the Frisco Nordic Center hosted by Summit.

Steamboat will host the Colorado High School State Skiing Championships Feb. 23 and 24 with the Alpine events taking place at Howelsen Hill and the Nordic races set for the Steamboat Ski Touring Center.

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