Summit boys Nordic 2nd in Steamboat despite loss of top skier |

Summit boys Nordic 2nd in Steamboat despite loss of top skier

Tigers’ Zygulski races to 3rd in individual girls skate

Summit Tigers Nordic skier Kai Oppito skis out of the start area just east of Loveland Ski Area en route to a fourth-place finish in the 7.5-kilometer skate race on the recpath to Bakerville earlier this month. On Friday, Oppito was Summit’s top racer in fourth place at the Steamboat Springs skate.
Photo by Antonio Olivero /

The Summit High School Nordic ski team raced to a runner-up performance at Friday’s 5.7-kilometer skate race at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center despite being without one of its best skiers.

Tigers head coach Eva Hagen said Jonah Mocatta suffered a wrist injury while Alpine skiing Thursday that sidelined him from Friday’s race and could force him out of next weekend’s state championships at Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge.

Without Mocatta, it was the Tigers’ Kai Oppito who posted the best time on the course, finishing in fourth among 54 skiers in 16 minutes and 35 seconds — 50 seconds off the winning pace of Sumner Cotton of Steamboat Springs.

“Kai, the course suited him somewhat, with the first part a climb then the downhill,” Hagen said. “All in all, Kai, he said he felt good, and he had a good race. Kai’s definitely a skater. He is a good classic skier, too. And the hills — the uphills are good for Kai, and it was good it was a longer uphill, then downhill.”

The next best Tigers boys racer in the team competition — in which Steamboat edged Summit 175 to 164 — was Evan Callahan, who raced to ninth place in 17:35.

“Evan had a really good, strong climb,” Hagen said. “Then on the downhill, he went into a headwind. It’s hard for some of the boys going straight into the headwind with a 15-second (interval start) in between every kid because some of the time they’re by themselves. They had to push hard.”

The Tigers’ other top boys racers Friday included Liam Goettelman (11th, 17:46), Roan Varble (13th, 17:49) and Christian Skowron (17th, 18:19).

Hagen said the team practiced through the school’s winter break and applied a solid structure on the base of skis to deflect wet snow heading into Friday’s races.

“The wax and everything seemed to work great and the conditions were awesome,” Hagen said. It hadn’t snowed yet. It was warm and ideal conditions for racing. It was a bit faster for the boys, and the boys raced really well.

“Obviously, Steamboat is a huge competitor, but we had some good results, and this is a good tuneup race for us for states, as we’ll be racing some of those fast Steamboat kids again.”

Also on Friday, the Tigers once again had only two girls race for the team, resulting in a last-place finish because Summit lacked an individual score in the team contest. Summit’s Liliane Zygulski finished in third place in the 42-racer event with a time of 19:52. Her Tigers teammate Maclean Donovan raced to 22nd place at 22:47.

“Lily said she felt great,” Hagen said. “She looks really strong and looked great on the climb. Maclean looked pretty good on the climb, but I think the descent was going straight into the headwind, and she lost some time for sure.”

Due to COVID-19, the Tigers won’t have a league championship race this year and are next scheduled to race in the Colorado High School Activities Association state championship on home snow March 6 at Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge.

The Tigers and other teams will race a 5K classic in the morning followed by a 3K skate in the afternoon on trails similar to their home races earlier this season but with some slight additions for the state meet.

The Tigers girls team will be able to field a full squad, with the two girls who raced Friday as well as the talented Aubree Confer and Tai-Lee Smith. After taking part in virtual events earlier this year, this will be Smith’s first traditional interval-start race of the season for the high school. Hagen said the Tigers will settle on which four boys will race at state by the end of the weekend.

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