Summit Nordic skiers brave arctic temperatures in Alaskan JOs |

Summit Nordic skiers brave arctic temperatures in Alaskan JOs

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Summit County Nordic skiers finished largely in the middle of their fields in the 2003 Junior Olympics, which wrapped up last weekend in Fairbanks, Alaska, during Alaska’s coldest weather all season.

The Rocky Mountain Division (RMD) team came in fifth overall of the 10 teams competing, which were the best in the United States. The RMD team, in turn, consisted of the top 42 junior Nordic skiers in Colorado, including Summit County locals Kyle Ahern, Ryan Ahern and Kelly Ahern, Andy and Pete Richmond, Meredith Gilliland, Josh Dayton and Patrick Neel.

Although the Alaskan competitors took most of the top spots in classic, freestyle, sprint and relay races, all racers put up with temperatures that plummeted far below zero.

“They skied under the most unbelievable conditions,” said Gene Dayton, one of the RMD coaches and assistant coach for the Summit High School Nordic team, the boys team for which won the state competition this season while the girls team took second. “It was under 20 (degrees fahrenheit) below every morning and the races were delayed because they couldn’t ski until it warmed up to four below.”

Rocky Mountain Division’s Simi Hamilton of Aspen won one of the sprint races in Fairbanks, and had the top finish of his division’s competitors after winning every high school race throughout the season.

Although coaches say Summit racers were a little disappointed in their results, they valued their experience, which was partially financed by the Town of Frisco with proceeds from the 2003 Gold Rush race.

Summit High Nordic coach Marty Gervais said the team is already looking ahead to next season.

“It was a little disappointing to some of the kids, but they gave it their all and they’ve had a good season and a long season,” Gervais said. “They’re already thinking about next year’s (Junior Olympics) in Lake Placid, (New York).”

“I was very proud of the whole group from Summit County,” Dayton said. “The chill factor was incredible. To go outside in conditions like that is one thing, to try to race in them is totally another.”

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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