Summit Nordic Ski Club hosts top-tier talent at third annual Roller Ski Fest |

Summit Nordic Ski Club hosts top-tier talent at third annual Roller Ski Fest

Two roller ski racers lean at the line at the third annual Summit Nordic Ski Club Roller Ski Fest on Sunday, July 10. The Summit Nordic Ski Club notched several top 15 performances including a second place finish from Elsie Robinson in the U14 race and Nina Schamberger in the women's U16 and older race.
Whitney Hedberg/Courtesy photo

Like any successful sports season, preparation usually begins months in advance. For Nordic skiers, preparation begins in the summer months, but with little snow to glide upon, athletes with membership to clubs — like the Summit Nordic Ski Club — turn toward roller skiing.

Roller skiing allows athletes to train hard through the summer, helping them to build a strong training base prior to the start of winter competitions.

“If you look at the correlation between skiing and other sports, the one that has the highest correlation to Nordic skiing is roller skiing,” Summit Nordic Ski Club head coach Olof Hedberg said. “It’s not exactly the same, it’s lower friction than skiing, but overall it’s the closest to skiing.”

The Summit Nordic Ski Club began summer training June 1, and with several months until snow blankets Nordic skiing routes in Summit County, Olof and Whitney Hedberg organized the third annual Roller Ski Fest in order to provide a break from typical training. 

The race took place on Sunday, July 10, in the Colorado Mountain College parking lot in Breckenridge. Seventy-seven competitors raced in a tournament-like competition. It included a qualifier round before participants were separated into head-to-head heats.

Participants in the race competed over a 125-meter sprint course up to six times as they vied to be crowned the champion. Since the course was so quick and fast, results were tabulated to the thousandth of a second like blazing-fast Alpine races. 

The event was split into two age divisions, a smaller U14-and-younger division and a large men’s and women’s U16-and-older division.

This year’s Summit Nordic Ski Club Roller Ski Fest displayed how popular roller skiing is in the summer since the event featured the most talent it has ever seen. Nineteen different teams competed in the one-day event, including top-tier athletes from the U.S. Ski Team’s U16 Nordic skiing camp. 

“We had 40 of the best U16’s in the country here,” Hedberg said. “We really had a top notch field. Probably one of the highest-quality fields we have had here in Summit, which was super great to see and made for tight racing.”

The races proved to be highly competitive since many races came down to a photo finish. 

In the coed U14-and-younger age division, the Summit Nordic Ski Club made up six of the the top eight spots. Leading the way for the club was Elsie Robinson, who was the first U14 female finisher with a qualifying time of 20.76 seconds. 

Robinson’s performance in the heats was enough for second place overall against a field that featured two boys from the Boulder Nordic Junior Racing Team.

Marin Little was the second female finisher with a qualifying time of 23 seconds. Little placed fifth overall and was followed by her teammate, Maeve Niemkiewicz, who finished in sixth place overall. Niemkiewicz was the third female finisher in the U14-and-younger race. 

On the boy’s side, Marat Gilfanov took home the gold for the Boulder Nordic Junior Racing Team. He posted a top qualifying time of 20.21 seconds.

Summit Nordic Ski Club’s Danny Butler placed third, Crosby Hume finished in fourth and Cooper Osborn placed seventh. Butler recorded the top qualifying time by a Summit Nordic Ski Club U14 athlete with a time of 20.54 seconds.

Summit Nordic Ski Club’s Elsie Robinson, left, and Danny Butler, third from left, stand atop the podium after placing second and third overall, respectively, at the third annual Summit Nordic Ski Club Roller Ski Fest on Sunday, July 10. Beyond racing in the event, both Robinson and Butler were inspired by the talent in the U16 races.
Whitney Hedberg/Courtesy photo

“It is awesome that the kids got to race and that we had Robinson in second and Butler in third,” Hedberg said. “It was important for them to have fun and for them to see top-level skiing and see the strongest skiers in the country. For the young ones, the biggest thing was inspiration.”

In the women’s U16-and-older race, it came as no surprise that Summit Nordic Ski Club’s Nina Schamberger vied for a spot on the podium since she competed for the U.S. at the Junior World Championships this past winter.

Schamberger showed her competitive drive by recording a qualifying time of 18.15 seconds, which she improved upon in order to finish in second place overall. 

Lola Villafranco of Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club topped the 32-women field with a qualifying time of 18.72 seconds. 

Summit Nordic Ski Club’s Elona Greene notched a top-20 performance, finishing in 17th place after also recording the 17th best time in qualifiers. 

Sarah Bivens, Kiera Stabile and Autumn Alcock rounded out the female talent for the Summit Nordic Ski Club, placing 21st, 27th and 32nd, respectively.

Summit Nordic Ski Club’s Elsie Robinson races in the third annual Summit Nordic Ski Club Roller Ski Fest on Sunday, July 10. Robinson was the top female finisher in the U14 division and placed second overall.
Whitney Hedberg/Courtesy photo

On the men’s side, the Summit Nordic Ski Club had nine athletes compete in the 37-man U16-and-older race.

Barely missing the top 10 was Sam Haynes, who placed 11th overall. Haynes was preceded by Summit Nordic Ski Club alumni Gray Wasson, who races for Bridger Ski Foundation and is spending the summer in Summit in order to train. 

Wasson placed fifth overall after posting a qualifying time of 15.85 seconds.

Placing 13th and 15th respectively were James Sowers and Kai Oppito. Both Sowers and Oppito race for the Summit Nordic Ski Club and the Summit High School Nordic ski team during the winter.

Landon Laverdiere placed 26th, Roan Varble placed 29th, Brody Henning placed 34th, Carter Niemkiewicz placed 35th, Jack Hurlbert placed 36th and Parker Osborn finished in 37th place. 

The Summit Nordic Ski Club will continue to train hard throughout the rest of the summer in preparation for the winter. The team has plans to host a team camp in Summit County along with with Loppet Nordic Racing at the end of the month.

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