Victorious again: Summit boys skiing team wins second consecutive Colorado state championship title
James Sowers finishes in 2nd in boys classic race; Alex Elsig places 4th in boys slalom
Heading into the second and final day of the 2023 state skiing championships, the Summit High School boys skiing program had some work to do if it wanted to defend its state title from last year.
Following sophomore James Sowers’ first-place finish in the Nordic skate race on Thursday, Summit sat in second place with 308 points behind Battle Mountain High School (312) to begin competition on Friday, Feb. 17.
The Summit boys skiing team needed to ski spectacularly in both Nordic and Alpine disciplines in order to make up the 4-point deficit and power past its Interstate 70 corridor rivals. With exceptional finishes from Sowers, Alex Elsig and Michael Cheek, the Summit boys skiing team secured its second consecutive state skiing title, outscoring Battle Mountain 624 to 604.
Boys Nordic classic race
For the second day in a row, the Summit boys Nordic ski team was unstoppable.
Backing up his state title from the day before, Sowers led the way for the Summit Nordic ski team. Sowers looked both strong and collected throughout the challenging, 5-kilometer classic course at the Frisco Nordic Center and earned himself a silver medal to go alongside his gold from the day before.
Sowers placed second overall in a time of 16 minutes, 36.46 seconds. Sowers was beat out by Lake County High School’s Jace Peters, who placed first overall in a time of 16:11.44.
Although Sowers’ second-place finish was impressive on its own, the rest of the Summit boys Nordic ski team also had noteworthy performances.
Freshman Carter Niemkiewicz crashed his way into the top 10, placing ninth overall (17:21.73) while Roan Varble placed 10th (17:32.39).
Parker Osborn finished in 16th place (18:06.26) and Christian Skowron bounced back from a lackluster performance on Thursday to place 17th overall (18:26.28).
“I felt great today — yesterday, not so much,” Skowron said. “I was not feeling it yesterday, but today I woke up with a better mindset and came out here ready to crush it. My mindset was good, I was motivated, and I was pumped up for this race knowing it is my last competitive school Nordic race.”
WIth an 18th-place finish from Brody Henning (18:34.16) and a 20th-place finish from Jonah Mocatta (18:36.92), the Summit boys Nordic ski team put seven athletes within the top 20.
The tightly packed finish from the Summit squad was enough to earn 162 points and sweep the boys Nordic ski races at the 2023 state skiing meet. Summit placed first overall while Lake County placed in a nearby second with 160 points.
Boys Alpine slalom
The Summit boys Alpine ski team was also able to pack its finishes together in the boys slalom competition at Copper Mountain Resort.
Junior Alex Elsig put together two clean and fast runs to combine for a time of 1:35.76, which secured him a fourth-place finish overall.
Following Elsig was senior Michael Cheek who concluded his high school Alpine skiing career with another finish within the top five. Cheek recorded runs of 51.81 seconds and 49.98 seconds to place fifth overall with a time of 1:41.79.
Steamboat Spring High School’s Colin Kagan was crowned state champion in the boys slalom with a combined time of 1:33.16.
Summit’s final Alpine competitor on the day was senior Jackson Campbell, who placed 25th overall after dropping time on his second run of the day. Campbell finished his first run with a time of 1:01.87 and cleaned up his technique on his second run to finish in 59.76 seconds.
Campbell finished with a combined time of 2:01.63.
The Summit boys Alpine ski team scored 154 points to place fourth overall and ultimately solidified a second-straight state title.
Girls Alpine slalom
Like the boys team, the Summit girls skiing program had its fair share of work to do if it wanted to move up in the overall team rankings. After the first day of competition, the Summit girls skiing team maintained third place overall with 303 points behind Aspen and Battle Mountain.
Wanting to improve upon the Summit girls ski team’s fourth-place finish at last year’s state skiing meet, the Summit girls Alpine ski team put four athletes within the top 25.
After being disqualified from Thursday’s giant slalom competition after missing a gate, junior Luci Brady led the way for the Tigers, placing sixth overall with a combined time of 1:53.87. Brady was relieved to have two solid runs, recording a time of 56.48 seconds on her first run and 57.39 seconds on her second run.
“It feels pretty good,” Brady said of placing sixth after being disqualified Thursday. “The competition was really hard. All the girls I competed against, we have beat each other back and forth. I was expecting a little better, but overall I thought I did pretty well for the course. The rest of our girls did pretty well, too, so we will see how it all rolls out.”
The girls slalom competition was won by Steamboat Spring High School’s Emma McHaffie who finished with a time of 1:45.74.
Brady was followed by freshman Lauren McCalla, who had an excellent second run to place 13th overall with a combined time of 1:56.63. Freshman Mackenzie Cross placed 19th (1:59.71), freshman Claire Jackson finished in 20th (1:59.96) and sophomore Kristiana Stoyanova placed 21st overall (2:00.35).
The performance from the Summit girls Alpine ski team earned the team 146 points, which was enough for fifth place in the girls slalom competition.
Girls Nordic classic race
The Summit girls Nordic ski team earned a fifth-place finish for the Summit girls skiing program by placing fourth overall in the 5-kilometer classic race.
In the front pack for the entirety of the race was sophomore Ella Hagen, who raced hard for her team and her school. Hagen battled over the last stretch of the race and finished in fourth place overall with a time of 20:57.19.
After winning the girls skate race on Thursday, Lake County High School’s Ella Bullock was victorious again. Bullock finished the race in a time of 20:04.77, nearly 30 seconds ahead of Middle Park High School’s Slyvia Brower
Niamh Nelson followed Hagen in 16th place (22:33.94) while Kate Williams finished seconds later in 22:45.24 for 18th place.
Fiona Florio rounded out the top 25 in 22nd (23:13.15), and Liliane Zygulski placed 29th (23:36.31).
The Summit girls Nordic ski team scored 148 points to place fourth in the classic race discipline. With the fifth-place finish from the Summit girls Alpine ski team in the slalom race, Summit combined for 597 points to finish in fifth place overall.
Battle Mountain won the state title with 620 total points, Middle Park was the runner-up with 606 points and Steamboat Springs placed third with 605 points.
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