Summit Tigers Nordic ski teams to be dominated by young talent this season

The 2020-21 Summit High School Nordic Ski team practices at Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge on Jan. 21.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

Eva Hagen, the head coach of Summit High School’s Nordic ski team, is anxiously awaiting the return of Nordic ski season.

Hagen, who is entering her third year as head coach after the team nearly dissolved at the beginning of 2020, won’t have to wait long as official practice begins Monday, Nov. 15.

Hagen said the team will start with some dryland training until after Thanksgiving, when the hope is that some of the Nordic ski areas will open for Nordic skiing.

“Dryland practices consist of running, some strength work, some uphill running, bounding, walking up hills with poles and weight room work,” Hagen said.

Basically anything that will get the team prepared and strong for training on snow.

The Nordic ski team will have ample time to prepare for the season on the snow as its first competition does not occur until the start of the new year on Jan. 6 at Eldora. The Tigers season will also look more like normal — something Hagen is extremely excited about — after having an abnormal season last year due to COVID-19.

“Last year, for the state competition, we only got so many slots assigned due to the pandemic, and the coaches picked those slots,” Hagen said. “This year, we are back to the normal qualifying standards, which is a lot better.”

The Nordic ski team will have three opportunities to qualify for state among the six meets prior to the state championships Feb. 17-18 in Granby. In order to qualify, the team or individual must finish in the top third at a state qualifying meet and then compete in at least two races in the classic or skate race style, depending on the style they qualify in.

After competing at a couple of races to start the season, the Tigers will host their first opportunity to qualify for state Jan. 21 at Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge, where competitors will compete in a skate style, individual competition.

Summit’s Kai Oppito finishes in the 5K boys classic race at the 2021 Colorado Nordic Ski State Championships held at Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge on March 6.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

The Summit boys team will lean on a strong core of juniors going into the competition season and will look to be in the top third at the state qualifying events.

The Tigers will be led by Kai Oppito, Roan Varble and Jonah Macatto, all of whom had strong competitions last year and will look to continue their success this season. Hagen is confident the boys will have a strong season with the returners leading the pack.

On the girls side, the team will be led by mostly underclassmen, but the group is riddled with young talent. In combination with the Summit Alpine skiing program, coached by Karl Barth, Hagen believes the girls have a chance at winning the state championship.

“Last year, we got second, and we only had three girls actually ski the state championship,” Hagen said. “This year, we still only have freshman or sophomores, but they are all strong skiers.”

Some of the girls’ top skiers will be freshman phenom in cross-country running and daughter to coach Hagen, Ella Hagen, freshman Niamh Nelson and sophomore returner Sophia Bertonneau. The top returner for the girls team will be sophomore Liliane Zygulski, who raced very well in her debut, freshman season last year.

The Summit Nordic ski teams are also coached by Jill Sorenson and Scott Yule, who focus on technique and development.

“We are all looking forward to getting the season going, developing those younger kids, having some hard workouts to get them prepared, and then hopefully being really competitive in the races,” Hagen said.

Tigers Nordic skiing schedule

• Jan. 6: Eldora, noon

• Jan. 14: Leadville Golf Course, 1 p.m.

• Jan. 21: Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge, 1 p.m. (state qualifier)

• Jan. 29: Maloit Park in Minturn, 10 a.m. (state qualifier)

• Feb. 5: Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, 11 p.m.

• Feb 12: Steamboat Ski Touring Center, 10 a.m. (state qualifier)

• Feb. 17-18: Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, CHSAA state championships

• Feb. 25: Howelsen Hill Skimeister Championship in Steamboat Springs

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