Summit Nordic ski team endures snowy conditions to place well at Nordic ski race in Minturn
Most of the time, powdery snow is highly sought after in the world of snowsports. In fact, many people choose to take work off and drive countless miles just to get their turns in a new, fresh layer of snow.
In Nordic skiing, powder is perhaps the last thing a competitor wants to see on race day. On Saturday, Jan. 28, the Summit Nordic ski team faced a good amount of powder in a classic style race at Maloit Park in Minturn.
The snow added to an already challenging course, but the majority of the Summit Nordic ski team fought through the snow in order to place first for boys and fifth for girls overall.
The fresh snow did not only inhibit each team member from going faster in the race, but they were also delayed in arriving at Maloit Park.
“Getting there was a challenge in itself,” head coach Eva Hagen said. “Traffic was backed up already when we got on the interstate. It was just so snowy. We made it there with about an hour to spare.”
After a hasty wax job and warm up, the Summit Nordic ski team took to the wintry course.
Due to the snow, Hagen said it was challenging for the team to not snowplow on the downhill sections of the course which resulted in several falling over in the middle of the race.
“Pretty much all of the girls crashed,” Hagen said. “Ella (Hagen) crashed a couple of times. A lot of the boys crashed as well. It was pretty challenging. It was kind of an all-around course. You really needed to know how to ski downhill.”
Summit did its best to power through the falls and still competed well against a host of talented Nordic ski programs.
The Summit boys Nordic team competed especially well despite the adverse conditions, placing first overall by 18 points.
Leading the way for the Tigers was freshman Carter Niemkiewicz, who placed fourth overall with a time of 15:53.1. Niemkiewicz was quickly followed by sophomore teammate James Sowers, who placed fifth overall with a time of 15:53.9.
“The boys rose to the occasion, and they skied really well,” Hagen said. “Carter raced really well. With little time to spare, he got on the start line and raced really well. James did as well. James was actually a little late to start and just caught up.”
Rounding out the top 10 and scoring for the Tigers was Roan Varble in seventh place and Kai Oppito in eighth. Varble finished in a time of 15:54.7, while Oppito finished in 15:56.2.
Brody Henning placed 22nd, Parker Osborn placed 26th, Josh Shriver placed 31st and Jonah Mocatta placed 36th. The eight athletes all met the cut off for the state classic ski race.
The Summit boys Nordic ski team finished first with 220 points. Middle Park High School placed second with 202 points. Vail Mountain School took third with 190 points.
The Summit girls Nordic ski team had a more challenging race but still placed in the top half of the competition.
After a series of falls, sophomore Ella Hagen once again led the way for Summit with an eighth-place finish. Hagen finished in a time of 19:20 to score 53 points for the team.
Niamh Nelson followed Hagen in 13th place with a time of 20:01 and Liliane Zygulski placed 24th in a time of 20:47.
Katherine Williams and Fiona Florio placed 29th and 32nd respectively to meet the state cut off in the classic race discipline.
“Lili (Zygulski) had one of her better races so far,” Eva Hagen said. “Everybody had some issues.”
With under three weeks until the Colorado High School Activities Association State Skiing Championships in Frisco from Feb. 16-17, Hagen feels like the team is trending in the right direction.
“I feel like the boys are in a really good spot,” Hagen said. “They are looking really strong and are getting stronger. At this point the main focus is on sharpening some of the skills, maybe working on some top-end speed. I think the girls can do really well, too. Obviously we have the home advantage.”
On Saturday, Feb. 4, a smaller squad will compete in the Colorado High School Ski League Relay Championships at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville. Those not competing will rest up after a few hard weeks of racing.
The following Thursday, Feb. 9, the Summit High School Nordic ski team will host its final race of the season prior to the state skiing championships. Summit and other participating teams will compete in a skate race at the Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge. Races are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
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