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Perkins vs. Perkins

DEVON O'NEILsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc
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FRISCO – Two more races. Then Briana Perkins’ torture will be over.No more finishing ahead of every racer in the field, except her older sister. No more maddening frustration. No more second best.As a sophomore this year, Perkins has cemented her status as the No. 2 high school Nordic skier in Colorado. Brittany Perkins, a senior who lives under the same roof as Briana, is No. 1.The sibling rivalry between them no longer is a verbal firestorm bordering on hatred, as it was last year. Instead it has grown and matured, along with the two teenagers from Breckenridge, into something more pleasant, more healthy.But it is not dead. Not by a long shot. Even after this weekend’s state championship races are over, and they have competed against one another for the final time on a high school stage, there will still be a rivalry. It just won’t feed a team like it has the Summit High School Nordic squad this season.Brittany Perkins is the overwhelming favorite to win both the classic (today) and skate (Saturday) races at Snow Mountain Ranch. That’s what happens when you sweep the individual titles the year before and go undefeated during the regular season.And Briana Perkins, well, she is the favorite to finish second, if such a thing exists.Together with their teammates – four or five of whom could join them in the top 10 – the sisters make powerhouse Summit almost a sure thing to defend its girls crown and bring home the school’s third consecutive championship in that gender.They strive for team success in this individual sport. And, obviously, they go for individual glory, as well. But the biggest goal for Brittany and Briana Perkins is simply to beat each other. That part never changes.”I think the reason why she is so fast is so I won’t beat her,” Briana said Tuesday, during one of the team’s final practices before the state championships.”It just makes me feel good,” confirmed Brittany, the quiet mouse among the two, “to be able to beat my little sister.”

The two of them don’t broadcast their desire, at least not outwardly. But get them in a race and the competition is obvious.”You can tell when two people are racing each other,” SHS senior Matt Bowers said, “and that’s what they tend to do.”The rabbitMany times this year, Brittany, 17, and Briana, 16 – who also compete in the same age class, J1, at Rocky Mountain Division and national races – have pulled away from the rest of the field so that they are all alone out front. Then, just when it seems this might be the race in which Briana finally breaks through and wins, Brittany stretches the distance between them.Last weekend, at the regular-season finale in Vail, Brittany turned a 50-yard gap into a 300-yard gap during a three-minute section of the course called the “Spiral.”It was the sort of thing that used to send Briana home ready to explode with anger. She is used to it now, so she doesn’t fight it.”Once she sets her mind to it, she’ll just do it,” Briana said of her sister. “I don’t know what I can do to stop her.”That doesn’t mean Briana will stop trying.”You can see fire in her eyes every race, because she’s inspired,” SHS assistant coach Gene Dayton said. “She knows that’s her rabbit, and there’s nobody else out there.”In the fall, when both are racing for the Summit High cross country team, their roles are reversed. It is Briana who torches Brittany on those dirt trails, though the younger sister still says she would rather have the upper hand on snow, which is where pride is won in this rivalry.

East to WestBriana and Brittany were born on New York’s Long Island, of all places. Their parents, Karen and Brian, moved to Colorado when the kids were 5 and 6, respectively. Within weeks the tiny sisters were exploring the backcountry on skis. Their preference for cross country trails over downhill trails was evident from the start, even if they didn’t begin racing until middle school.Since then, each has made a name for herself – though they are still better known collectively, as the Perkins sisters.According to Breck native Matt Dayton, a 2002 Olympian in Nordic combined and the Summit Nordic Club’s program director, the rivalry hardly comes as a surprise. Neither do the sensational results.”I’ve always said that if you want to have kids that are fast skiers, have kids that are close in age,” Dayton said.This weekend brings to an end – or at least the end of this chapter – a harrowing ordeal for the Perkins parents. For so many winters they have cheered both daughters, riding a rare line of objectivity that extends far beyond the ski trails.”Of course you want both of them to win,” Karen said, “but that’s not possible.”And so they have compromised with this, which doesn’t disturb the universe but simultaneously encourages the understudy: “Now we hope Brittany comes in first and Briana comes in right after her,” their mother said.For once, Briana says she will be satisfied with second place at the state meet. She will be rooting for her sister go out on top, she says.The reason here is simple.”She’s a senior, so she’ll move on,” Briana said. “And then it will be my turn.”

Nordic State MeetSHS girls seeds1. Brittany Perkins2. Briana Perkins3. Hannah Hausman4. Mackenzie Jones5. Lauren Jefferson6. Leah VenturoniScoringThe state ski meet is the only time all year that each school’s alpine and Nordic scores are combined. Thus, the boys and girls champions are determined by how their schools fare in each discipline; ie, Summit’s boys alpine and Nordic scores are added up to give the Tigers a team score in that gender.ScheduleFriday Giant slalom: 9 a.m., Winter Park- Girls first, boys second Classic: 4 p.m., Snow Mountain Ranch- Girls first, boys secondSaturday Slalom: 9 a.m., Winter Park- Girls first, boys second Freestyle: 4 p.m., Snow Mountain Ranch- Girls first, boys secondDevon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13630, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.


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