First taste of victory: Summit Nordic ski team gets first wins of the season at Tennessee Pass Nordic Center |

First taste of victory: Summit Nordic ski team gets first wins of the season at Tennessee Pass Nordic Center

Freshman Cain Steinweg, left, and sophomore Josh Shriver prepare to compete in their first race of the season at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center outside of Leadville on Saturday, Jan. 7. Both athletes placed within the top-15 to secure a first place finish for the Summit boys Nordic ski team.
Eva Hagen/Courtesy photo

There is no better feeling than a team winning its first competition of the season. The victory reaffirms that the hard work being made in practice is paying off and that the team is headed in the right direction. 

After nearly two months of practice, the Summit High School Nordic ski team got the reassurance it was looking for in the Tigers’ first race of the season at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center near Leadville on Saturday Jan. 7.

On a hilly and challenging course that played to the aerobic strength of the Summit Nordic ski team, the Tigers won both the girls and boys 5-kilometer skate race by a fair margin.

“We won pretty solidly,” head coach Eva Hagen said. “The boys looked incredibly strong. It is a really strong boys team. There are a lot of them, and they are close together. They look really good.”

The Summit boys Nordic ski team — who is looking to defend its state skiing title from last year in conjunction with the boys Summit Alpine ski team — had several noteworthy performances. 

Leading the way for the team was sophomore James Sowers. Sowers put himself in the front pack in the early stages of the race, but he soon broke away to put some distance between himself and the chase pack.

Sowers crossed the finish line in a time of 14 minutes, 29 seconds to beat Evergreen High School’s Evan Morrison by a span of 32 seconds. 

Sowers was soon followed by several of his Summit teammates, with freshman Carter Niemkiewicz placing third overall in a time of 15:26. Senior Christian Skowron and sophomore Josh Shriver rounded out the scoring for Summit with fourth- and sixth-place finishes. Skowron finished in a time of 15:53, and Shriver crossed the finish line in 16:18.

“(Shriver) has not just started Nordic skiing, but he just joined the team this year,” Eva Hagen said. “He did some Nordic skiing previously, but he placed sixth. He put in a massive effort.” 

Following the Tigers’ top four finishers, the Summit Nordic ski team crossed the line one after another in a long line of green uniforms. Parker Osborn finished seventh, Bryce Oppito finished eighth, Brody Henning finished ninth, Puc Mateusz finished 10th, Donovan Ramey placed 12th, Griffin Heins placed 13th and freshman Cain Steinweg placed 15th. 

The Summit boys Nordic ski team finished with a total of 230 points to defeat Lake County High School by 16 points. Evergreen High School finished in third with 206 points, and Nederland High School placed fourth with 191 points. 

Ella Hagen navigates a corner during the high school girls 5-kilometer skate race at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center near Leadville on Saturday, Jan. 7. Ella Hagen placed first overall to help Summit girls Nordic team to place first in the team standings.
Eva Hagen/Courtesy photo

The Summit High School girls Nordic ski team also had a dominating team performance. 

In the first few kilometer of the race, sophomore Ella Hagen made herself comfortable at the top of the field with Lake County’s Ella Bullock. Ella Hagen and Bullock battled throughout the 5-kilometer course, but in the end it was Ella Hagen who crossed the finish line in first place with a time of 16:48, three seconds in front of Bullock. 

The rest of the girls Summit Nordic ski team followed Ella Hagen to place within the top 10.  Sophia Bertonneau placed third in a time of 17:25, Niamh Nelson placed fourth in 18:22, Katherine Williams finished in seventh in 19:08, Fiona Florio placed eighth in 19:32 and Liliane Zygulski finished in ninth with a time of 19:34.

“Niamh Nelson raced pretty well as well,” Eva Hagen said. “She definitely put in a solid effort and so did Katherine Williams.” 

Summit placed first with 228.5 points, Lake County placed second with 222.5 points and Nederland finished in third with 201 points. Evergreen placed fourth with 191 points. 

“The race definitely played into our hands,” Eva Hagen said.”Those who have a good engine and great endurance did well. It was a great rust buster. It was perfect for dusting off the cobwebs and seeing where they are at.”

The Summit Nordic ski team will now prepare for its next competition at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby on Friday, Jan. 13. The race will serve as the first state qualifier race of the season with most athletes competing in both skate and classic races. 

“It is a really good opportunity to get qualified in both disciplines in one day,” Eva Hagen said. “I think they are pretty well prepared. They are fit. They have been training a lot. It will suit the kids who have some great endurance since it will be back-to-back races.” 

The races are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. with the last race starting at 1:30 p.m.

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