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SHS to defend ski titles at home

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkThis year's state cross-country ski meet and state alpine races will be held in Summit County. The cross-country races will take place at Breckenridge's Gold Run and the alpine races will be held at Keystone.
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SUMMIT COUNTY – Last winter, the Summit High School boys and girls ski teams swept the state high school championships in Steamboat Springs to bring home the Tigers’ 29th and 30th titles in the discipline. In February, they’ll get to defend those titles – on home soil.The 2005 Colorado high school state skiing championships will be held in Summit County Feb 18-19, where the state’s 15 prep skiing programs will vie for a boys and girls title by combining results from two alpine disciplines and two Nordic disciplines. The alpine events – giant slalom and slalom – will take place at Keystone, while the Nordic events – 5K classic and 5K freestyle -will be held at the Gold Run Nordic Center. “It’s definitely the buzz among coaches and athletes heading into the winter season,” said Summit athletic director Gretchen NiesThis will be the first time since 1995 that Summit has hosted the championships, Nies said. Nies began working on establishing the venues last spring, and finalized the process in September.

Identifying the two venues was a relatively painless affair for Nies, as she found all of the parties involved were more than happy to cooperate. In the case of Keystone, Nies was approached directly by the resort’s director of mountain operations, Chuck Tolton. “We host at least one home event every year, and we try to pass that around the county,” Nies said, noting that Copper hosted the championships 10 years ago. “We put it out to all the ski areas and Chuck put together a package that looked pretty good.” One of Nies’ biggest priorities was establishing a spectator-friendly venue, since many of the children have parents and grandparents who may have difficulty getting up onto the slopes of a ski resort.Go Devil, the premier racing venue at Keystone, drops right into the Mountain House base area. Much of the run is visible from the large deck on the side of the restaurant the base area is named after. “Being spectator friendly was probably one of our top priorities, and Keystone was able to do that much easier than (Breckenridge or Copper),” Nies said.As for the Nordic venue, the decision to bring the races to Gold Run was made before Nies even had to ask anyone.

“Basically, the Nordic community talked about the three venues we have here in the county and they all agreed that Gold Run fit our needs best,” Nies said. The decision was made by Gene Dayton and Derf Soller. Dayton runs the Frisco and Breckenridge Nordic centers and Soller runs Gold Run.Since Gold Run is a golf course in the summer, it has much better parking arrangements than either Frisco or Breckenridge. And like the alpine venue, spectator access is an issue. Gold Run has few trees to obscure the view from the main lodge of the Nordic center. Both venues offer challenges worthy of determining state champions.In the alpine events, the skiers will have to contend with Go Devil, which drops steeply down Keystone’s western edge. In the Nordic events, racers will need to deal with an undulating course that snakes its way through the North Fork of the Swan River drainage near Breckenridge. “I haven’t seen other (state championship) venues, but Go Devil should rank up there as one of the more challenging venues that they’ll come to for the season,” said Keystone’s race director, Jay Sowers.



But both the head alpine coach, Tory Hauser, and the head Nordic coach, Tom Sain, agree: the potential is there. Hauser comes into the season with one of the largest teams he’s ever had, after almost two dozen ambitious freshman signed up to ski. Add to that his returning state champion, Katie Hartman (slalom), and bronze medalist Taggert Spenst (slalom), and the alpine teams are as strong as ever. Sain’s Nordic squad will be working closely with former Olympic Nordic skier Matt Dayton on the newly formed Summit County Nordic Ski Club. His talented team will include the defending state champion in the 5K freestyle, Brittany Perkins.”I think there’s great energy,” said Sain. “I think this year’s team will be the strongest high school team we’ve ever had.” Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at rchittick@summitdaily.com.


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