Duathlon format tests athletes, coaches at Gold Run Nordic race
BRECKENRIDGE – When 2003 Summit High School graduate Josh Dayton crossed the finish line Friday at the Rocky Mountain Division junior qualifier at Gold Run Nordic Center, he pulled a 180 on his skate skis.
While Dayton won the race, he actually started the competition on a different set of classic skis. The format for Friday’s race was a duathlon, a rarity for local cross country athletes, which featured a 4K classic start, a mad-house transition stop, and a 4K skate finish.
While the World Cup uses a similar format, this was new to most of the young competitors.
“I’ve never done this type of thing before,” said Dayton, who attends Western State University. “The transition changes everything.”
Crested Butte’s Jamie Woelk won the women’s race, with early-leader Ryne Olson from Durango in second.
While the competition was a qualifier for the Junior Olympics, it was also an experiment that gave a few coaches headaches. Skis needed to be lined up in the correct order for the athletes at the transition area and, when one athlete appeared, his skate skis were missing.
“It’s definitely more work for us,” said Vail Mountain School coach Karl Höchtl. “But I think most of the kids liked it.”
For most of the athletes, the change in format was refreshing.
“It was fun,” said Summit High School’s Brittany Perkins, who took third among J2 racers and fourth overall. “It’s a little bit longer race than normal. I felt like it was almost two races. But I had more energy on the skate part.”
Perkins used the transition to the best of her ability. She arrived after the first 4K outside the top 10 before making a strong charge to the front in the last half of the race.
Summit’s Kate Chapman also landed in the top 10. Chapman, a triathlete, is used to the idea of transitions, and called the race “an 8K sprint.”
“It flew by pretty fast,” Chapman said. “But I felt pretty good.”
Chapman, a senior, is an athlete Tigers head coach Richard Nelson wishes he had around a few more years.
“She has the right kind of engine,” Nelson said.
A few Summit boys also had solid showings. Kevin Soller and Pete Richmond came across the finish line in the top 10, and Kyle Ahern paced himself to a good finish as well.
“Last week, Kevin took second at one of the races,” Nelson said. “For the last three weeks, he’s elevated his skills to the next level. He’s seeing all that hard work is paying off. He’s racing harder.”
And, Nelson’s still claiming Dayton as one of his own.
“He skis with Summit,” Nelson said.
“We’ll still count this one as a win.”
The event continues today at Gold Run Nordic Center as a combined Colorado High School Activities Association and Rocky Mountain Division event.
The format will be a normal classic race.
Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 257, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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