Summit High School freshman Ella Snyder wins Keystone Resort giant slalom

Summit High School Alpine ski team racer Ella Snyder competes in giant slalom during a ski competition at Keystone Resort on Friday, Feb. 5.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

Summit High School freshman Ella Snyder continued a fantastic start to a rookie season Friday at the Tigers’ giant slalom races versus Steamboat Springs High School and Battle Mountain High School at Keystone Resort.

Racing on the short, 15-gate giant slalom course on the resort’s Richter ski run, Snyder’s best time on the quick course of 52.62 seconds was nearly a second faster than runner-up Robin Pavelich of Battle Mountain (53.46).

Snyder’s win was her second of the young Colorado High School Alpine ski season. If there’s anything her Tigers teammates and fellow racers have realized thus far, it’s that Snyder and her older sister in Tigers junior Olyvia Snyder will be forces to be reckoned with at every race. Olyvia Snyder, and junior Jenna Sheldon, did not race Friday due to academic commitments.

“They are siblings, and it’s got to a point where they’re not racing between everyone else; it’s a fight between siblings, honestly,” said Tigers senior Victoria Uglyar, who raced to 11th place Friday.

After more than a foot of fresh powder fell at Keystone Resort Wednesday into Friday, Ella Snyder and the rest of the skiers dropped into the Richter course as flurries continued. Ella Snyder said racing in the powder, flat-light conditions, without any sun shining through to fasten the course, made it that much more important to stay in the ski track and remain compact and athletic from one gate to the next, as one slight mishap makes getting back into the course’s tracked groove difficult.

“Your skis can get pulled away from you, so you really have to stay in the track,” Ella Snyder said. “And you have to make quick transitions to keep up with the tight tempo of this course. You have to be strong on your outside ski and stand on it.”

Without Olivia Snyder and Sheldon racing, Ella Snyder and Uglyar were joined in the top 12 by Tigers teammates in freshman Jackson Cora (seventh), junior Paige Peterson (10th) and senior Camille Thompson (12th).

“You definitely can’t hesitate, because if you get caught in the soft snow, you are done,” Uglyar said. “You definitely have to think fast and make sure you don’t make any mistakes and just get really, really smooth clean turns. And there’s not much time to make up because the course is so short. You just have make sure to have a clean line, and you can’t be as aggressive with soft snow.”

Thompson said head coach Karl Barth stressed to the team to have an early initiation, pressuring quickly out of the gate, in the soft snow so athletes wouldn’t lose their outside ski.

Though she didn’t race as well as she has in the past, Thompson expressed gratefulness that the race was taking place during the pandemic. The race was hosted in a format where groups of five skiers from the same team formed “cohorts” that dropped into the race course.

“After last season, when sports got canceled, it’s nice to have a season as a senior,” Thompson said. “It’s nice to be a team leader, I guess.”

Cheek’s 3rd place leads Tigers boys

Sophomore Michael Cheek led the Tigers in the boys race, finishing in third place on the strength of his first run of the day, which was the fastest of any skier on their first run. Battle Mountain junior Will Bettenhausen won the race and Steamboat Springs senior James Lahrman was Friday’s runner-up.

“In previous years, I’ve done better in slalom, but with the lack of training this year, I think I’ll do better in giant slalom,” Cheek said before Friday’s races. “I’m hoping to get a top-three (Friday) if not a win.”

Summit’s other top boys racers Friday were sophomore Jack Hodge (11th), sophomore Jackson Campbell (13th), junior Gavin Masters (15th) and freshman Wyatt Huston (21st).

“I think just as a team, in general, we’ve all had a super positive attitude — especially with everything that’s been going on,” Campbell said. “Our results as a team have been pretty solid, and we’ve just been cheering each other on and having a good time.”

The Tigers Alpine skiers are next scheduled to race at 10 a.m. Wednesday in a dual slalom at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville.

Watch: Summit Tigers Alpine skiers giant slalom at Keystone Resort

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