Up to the challenge: Summit Nordic ski team skis to three team wins, two individual wins in Granby | SummitDaily.com

Up to the challenge: Summit Nordic ski team skis to three team wins, two individual wins in Granby

Freshman Carter Niemkiewicz competes in the 5-kilometer skate race on Friday, Jan. 13 at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby. Niemkiewicz helped lead the Summit boys team to two, first place finishes and was one of 31 Tigers to qualify for the state competition in February.
Eva Hagen/Courtesy photo

The Summit High School Nordic ski team was busy over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. At Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby on Friday, Jan. 13, the Summit Nordic ski team notched team wins in three out of the four races and had a mind boggling 31 state qualifying performances.

Heading into the meet, the Summit Nordic ski team knew that the competition would prove to be a unique challenge. For the first time all year, athletes would have to race two races in one day, a 3-kilometer classic race that morning and a 5-kilometer skate race a few hours later.

Despite having to race two hard efforts in the same day, the Summit Nordic ski team dominated the competition. 

“They did pretty well,” head coach Eva Hagen said of the two-race day. ” They kind of rose to the challenge, and they did pretty well.”

Putting four skiers within the top-10 and qualifying 10 racers to the state competition, the Summit boys Nordic ski team got the action going in the 3-kilometer classic race.

Leading the charge for the Tigers was junior Roan Varble, who placed third overall with a time of 9 minutes. Seconds after Varble crossed the finish line, sophomore James Sowers finished in fifth place with a time of 9:07.

Freshman Carter Niemkiewicz placed eighth in a time of 9:24, while senior Kai Oppito placed ninth in 9:25.

The performances from Summit’s top four racers resulted in a final score of 220 points, which was enough to beat Middle Park High School for first place by 27 points.

Outside of Varble, Sowers, Niemkiewicz and Oppito qualifying for state in the event, Brody Henning, Josh Shriver, Christian Skowron, Parker Osborn, Bryce Opptio and Donovan Ramey also met the qualifying standard for the state race.

Excited by the success of the boys team, the Summit girls Nordic ski team skied to a first-place finish of its own. 

At the front of the race, sophomore Ella Hagen battled alongside Middle Park High School’s Sylvia Brower and Lake County High School’s Ella Bullock. Hagen kept close to her competitors throughout the majority of the course to finish in third place with a time of 11:26.

Hagen was followed by Niamh Nelson in fifth place, who recorded a time of 11:33, and Katherine Williams in eighth, who finished in a time of 12:00. 

Summit’s final scoring skier was Liliane Zygulski, who finished in 17th place with a time of 12:28, and freshman Fiona Florio placed in a nearby 27th with a time of 13:00.

Summit scored 211 points to win its second race title of the day. Battle Mountain High School placed second with 207 points, and Poudre High School placed third with 192 points.

Hagen, Nelson, Williams Zygulski and Florio all hit the mark to qualify for the classic race at state. 

After rehydrating and refueling, the Summit boys Nordic ski team took to the start line again for the 5-kilometer skate race. 

The Summit High School Nordic ski team poses for a photo after winning both the skate and classic race at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby on Friday, Jan. 13.
Eva Hagen/Courtesy photo

Skiing to his first-ever individual title in a Colorado High School Ski League race, Kai Oppito crossed the finish line in a time of 13:35, 15 seconds ahead of Middle Park’s Gray Barker in second.  

James Sowers placed third while Niemkiewicz continued to have a landmark day by placing eighth overall for his second top-10 finish of the day. 

Varble finished in 12th place, Bryce Opptio finished in 25th, Osborn finished in 29th and Shriver rounded out the top 30 in 30th place. 

Skowron, Henning, freshman Cain Steinweg and freshman Griffin Heins rounded out the list of state qualifiers for the Tigers in the skate discipline. 

With 220 points and a 28-point margin on Middle Park, the Summit boys Nordic team once again took first place.

“The boys looked incredibly strong,” Hagen said. “They raced really well.”

Behind Battle Mountain’s 209 points, the Summit girls Nordic ski team placed second in the skate race with 201 points.

Scoring 60 of the team’s 201 points was Ella Hagen, who improved upon her third-place finish by placing first in the skate race. Hagen got the best of Brower and Bullock over the longer-distance race to finish in a time of 16:35, 23 seconds in front of Bullock.

Nelson got another top-10 finish by placing ninth in a time of 17:55, and Zygulski placed 17th in a time of 18:44.

Williams placed 18th, and Florio finished in 23rd to join Hagen, Nelson and Zygulski in qualifying for state. 

The Summit High School girls Nordic ski team smiles after placing first and second in the skate and classic races at Snow Mountain Ranch on Friday, Jan. 13.
Eva Hagen/Courtesy photo

“I was super impressed by some of those that qualified, like Cain Steinweg, Griffin (Heins), then Kate (Williams) and Fiona (Florio) — a number of freshman. That was super impressive that in their first qualifying race they all qualified.”

Beyond nabbing state qualifying spots, the race also allowed the Summit Nordic ski team to get a full taste of the competition it may face at next month’s Colorado High School Activities Association State Skiing Championships in Frisco.

“This was a good test for state because every team was there and almost all the athletes were there as well,” Hagen said. “It was probably the most competitive race we will have before state. It was really good. It was fun.”

Summit will now train throughout the rest of the week before traveling to the Steamboat Touring Center for a skate race on Saturday, Jan. 21. The race is scheduled to begin at noon.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.