7 Summit County athletes named to US Skimo National Team
After hosting qualifying races at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area from Dec. 11-12, the U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association named 24 athletes to the 2021-22 national team that will compete across the globe this winter.
Among the 24 athletes named to the team are seven from Summit County, including Elsa Bates, Max Bonenberger, Sam Burke, Grace Staberg, Jeremiah Vaille, Arthur Whitehead and Kate Zander.
The skimo national team qualifying races were ultra competitive this year in anticipation of the sport being in the 2026 Winter Olympics.
The vertical qualifying race took place Dec. 11, while the individual race took place Dec. 12. In order to be considered for the national team, participants must finish within the top five for the senior category or place within the top three for the U23, U20 or U18 age categories.
Zander, who represents Breckenridge’s Hagan Ski Mountaineering, placed second in the women’s senior division, finishing the individual course in a time of 1 hour, 51 minutes and 39 seconds.
In the men’s senior division, Whitehead placed fourth in the individual race in 1:49:15 in order to be named to the team.
In the men’s U23 division, Bonenberger was able to place third in both races in order to make the national team. Bonenberger was a three-sport athlete at Summit High School — hockey, lacrosse and cross-country — alongside mountain biking and ski mountaineering. Boneberger finished in 2:00:24 in the individual race and 27:07 in the vertical race.
In the U20 division, Summit was represented by four local athletes.
Staberg placed third in the age division while Bates was able to get the first qualifying spot due to her performance in the vertical race, in which she placed first in 36:22.
In the men’s division, Burke, who trains with Western Colorado University, placed second, while Vaille, who graduated from Summit High in 2020 and now goes to Colorado School of Mines, placed first.
Vaille had the top time in the age division in both races, finishing the individual course in 1:49:04 and the vertical race in 25:17.
Vaille and Bates will also get the opportunity to compete at the European Championships from Feb. 9-13 in Boi Taull, Spain.
“I look forward to racing at the European Championships in February,” Vaille said in a text message. “I hope to see my training from college cross-country running (at Colorado School of Mines) continue to pay off with a strong fitness level in Spain.”
National Team Coach Joe Howdyshell said after the race that he is excited by the youth on the national team and that this year’s national team might be the most balanced he has ever seen with a good mix of senior and youth talent.
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