Hartman, Miller lead alpine girls; Stuhr a threat for boys
KEYSTONE – Summit High School alpine ski coach Tory Hauser doesn’t consider his team the favorite this year, boys nor girls.But so much in ski racing can come from a course. With that in mind, Hauser and the Tigers hope their home training hill, Keystone’s steep and intimidating Go Devil, will act as the equalizer.”For high school racing, this hill is as hard as they come,” SHS senior Josh Stuhr said. “It’s going to be entertaining.”Summit swept last year’s state titles in Steamboat – its 29th and 30th in school history – emerging victorious in part due to three individual state champions. But only one of those came from the alpine team. (Katie Hartman won the girls slalom crown.)
This year, Summit’s alpiners are less likely to win individual titles – even with the state races taking place on home snow; the GS is Friday and the slalom is Saturday.Due to some scheduling conflicts between club and high school races, Hartman will only ski the GS at state. And Taggert Spenst, Summit’s top boys racer last year, had to quit the team earlier this season for similar schedule-born reasons.The Tigers still have plenty of talented skiers capable of winning one of the two races, but it’s not the same top-heavy talent that helped carry them to the dramatic state sweep last February.”We don’t have the top guns,” Hauser said. “Aspen and Steamboat do. They’re the favorites.”
Still, when asked if he’d consider it an upset should the Tigers win the team crown, Hauser said, “I don’t think Summit (winning) could ever be considered an upset. But we’re certainly an underdog.” He paused for a moment, then added, “But I say that every year and we win.”If the “underdog” has its day, Summit’s strongest trio must do its part. Hartman – one of the top high school-age female racers in the nation – was runner-up in GS last year, and has said she wants to add that title to her trophy case. Shelly Miller, a four-year high school team member and one of the state’s most consistent skiers over the past two years, also is a threat in both events. She won the season finale slalom at Beaver Creek on Feb. 3, and was an all-state selection as a junior.As a group, Hauser said he thinks the girls are Summit’s alpine strength and that they have the best shot at winning a team title.On the boys side, senior Josh Stuhr – one of only two SHS seniors that will ski at state, along with Miller – leads the charge. He finished first, second, third and fourth in the four races he entered this year, including a win at the Winter Park slalom. He, too, is a returning all-state racer.
Aside from those three, however, Summit’s younger skiers will need to step up. Hauser thinks they will.Junior Tanner MacDonald, sophomores Drew Hauser, Fletcher McDonald, Tanner MacDonald and Tanner Bardin, and freshmen Zach Fretz, Mark Miller and Kevin Coleman all will ski from top-six seed positions in at least one race. Each team’s top three finishers score points, and a racer must start as a top-six seed to be eligible to score points.On the girls side, it will be Miller, Hartman and junior Jenna Sheely leading as upperclassmen, with freshmen Chelsey Fretz, Laurel Broten, Erin Breslin and Riley Gage looking to make their mark in their first state races.Everyone polled, from the third-year coach Hauser to Miller, Hartman and Stuhr, thinks the key for Summit will be its skiers’ ability to finish each race, not crash.
If they do that, and the Nordic skiers pull their weight – as they always seem to do – Summit could be celebrating once again. Despite their laid-back teamwide demeanor, the Tigers recognize the opportunity for their taking.”I think it would be a huge deal,” Hartman said of the potential to repeat. “All eyes are on us, again.”Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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