Summit Nordic ski team primed to top last season’s performances, defend state skiing title

Summit’s Christian Skowron and Steamboat’s Connor Frithsen race to the finish line of the 5K classic skate race during the Colorado High School Nordic Ski Championships at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby on Thursday, Feb. 17. Skowron will be one of the seniors leading the Summit boys Nordic team in pursuit of a second straight state title in 2023.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct location of the The Tennessee Pass Nordic Center.

The Summit High School Nordic ski team is more than ready to compete for the first time this season.

The Tigers have been feverishly training since the early part of November, eager to defend the boy’s state skiing championships last year and improve upon the girl’s fourth-place finish. 

The extended period of practice without a single competition has served the team well. Head coach Eva Hagen says the team is in a good spot heading into its first competition on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center north of Leadville.

“We have been training for a long time,” Hagen said. “It has almost been two months. During the holidays we actually had a pretty good turnout.” 

Despite great turnouts at practice, the Summit Nordic ski team has also been aided in its early season training by the availability of snow. Unlike last season, the Summit Nordic ski team has been able to be on snow basically since practices started in November. 

“(Last year) I think we didn’t really have really good snow until around Christmas,” Hagen said. “We were not able to nearly train as much on snow. It has been good.”

Over the last few weeks of practice, Hagen says the Summit boys Nordic ski team has started to look especially sharp and race ready.

The boys Nordic ski team will be spearheaded by several seniors who played a significant role in capturing the boys skiing state title at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby last season.

The Summit boys Nordic team gets ready before the 5K classic during the Colorado High School Nordic Ski Championships at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby on Feb. 18, 2022.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

Among the seniors on the boys Nordic ski team is Kai Oppito, Christian Skowron and Jonah Mocatta. All three seniors are expected to lead the team in 2023 and have set the collective goal of defending their state title performance.

Last season, Kai Oppito led the way in the state skate race, placing eighth overall, while junior Roan Varble placed ninth and Skowron placed 14th. 

Mocatta, James Sowers, Brody Henning, Bryce Oppito and Lucas Dayton all rounded out Summit’s performance in the skate race with finishes in the top 40.

In the state classic race, Varble placed fifth, Sowers placed sixth, Mocatta finished in 14th and Skowron finished in 15th.

With more experience on the team, the Summit boys Nordic skiing team is expected to run even tighter than last season.

“I think we have a really good shot,” Skowron said of defending Summit’s state title. “We are definitely one of the stronger ski programs in the state. It wasn’t necessarily that way freshman and sophomore year, but coach Eva has really given us a mindset of winning and we have greatly improved.”

The Tigers will have home snow advantage at this year’s state championships, hosting the Nordic portion of the event at the Frisco Nordic Center while Copper Mountain Resort hosts the Alpine portion. 

Several freshmen and sophomores will help the Summit boys Nordic team in their pursuit for another state title including Cain Steinweg and Jens Phaf.

“I think it is super cool, and I want to be a part of that (a state skiing title) again this year,” Steinweg said. 

The Summit girls Nordic ski team is also filled with talent. Coming off a highly successful and lengthy cross-country season, sophomore Ella Hagen will attempt to improve upon her fourth-place finishes at the state meet last season. 

Summit High School’s Ella Hagen competes in the 5K classic skate race during the Colorado High School Nordic Ski Championships at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby on Feb. 17, 2022.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

Hagen will be joined by fellow teammates Sophia Bertonneau and Liliane Zygulski who finished third and sixth respectively in the state skate race last February as sophomores.  

“If they all ski together and ski well, we could do well,” Eva Hagen said.

Ultimately the team is excited to get the season underway after training so hard over the last two months. Summit will take to a hilly, Tennessee Pass Nordic Center course for a skate race on Saturday, Jan. 7. 

“This course is definitely my favorite,” Skowron said of Saturday’s race. “I haven’t raced there since freshman year. I am really stoked that it got rescheduled there because hills are definitely my strength. I think a lot of kids on this team are really good at hills. I think that course specifically will play to the strengths of the team.” 

Saturday’s race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. The Tennessee Pass Nordic Center is located at East Tennessee Road off of U.S. Highway 24, about 10 minutes north of Leadville.

2022-23 Summit High School Nordic skiing schedule

Jan. 7, skate race at Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, 11 a.m. 

Jan. 13, classic and skate race at Snow Mountain Ranch, 10:30 a.m.

Jan. 21, skate race at Steamboat Touring Center, Noon 

Jan. 28, classic race at Maloit Park, 10 a.m. 

Feb. 4, Colorado High School Ski League Relay Championships at Colorado Mountain College-Leadville, TBA

Feb. 9,  skate race at Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge, 2 p.m.

Feb. 16-17, Colorado High School Activities Association State Skiing Championships, 3 p.m. both days 

Feb. 25, Colorado High School Ski League Sprint Championships at Steamboat Touring Center, TBA

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