Summit skiers take lead at state |

Summit skiers take lead at state

SPECIAL TO THE DAILYSummit's Will Cutler takes a tight turn on his way to a second-place finish in the giant slalom on Day 1 of the 2011 State Ski Championships in Aspen. The Tigers had an impressive first day, taking an eight-point lead into today's final races on the boys' side and a three-point lead for girls. The action continues with a slalom race at 9:30 a.m. and a 5k skate race at 3:30 p.m.

When Summit’s Tucker McCrerey crossed the finish line in Friday’s classic race, there wasn’t any celebrating, no arms raised in triumph, no signs of victory whatsoever.

With each skier racing against the clock in the 5k Nordic opener at the 2011 State Ski Championships, there was no way to know who won until the results were posted.

And McCrerey, who’d won virtually everything he entered all season, just knew he didn’t have it.

“I really didn’t feel good today,” he said.

So, when his name topped the list – or rather, when he was officially named the Colorado state champion in classic, he was certainly more surprised than anyone else was.

“I just didn’t think I was going to win,” he said. “I was surprised. … I’m definitely excited about it. I’ve worked hard all winter, and it’s nice to see it pay off.”

McCrerey’s crown was a highlight on a day filled with Tiger triumphs in Aspen. Summit had six skiers finish on the four Day 1 podiums, and both the boys’ and girls’ squads will take leads into today’s final races.

“It’s going to be close, but we like where we’re at,” SHS alpine coach Karl Barth said.

The boys’ Nordic squad – with three skiers in the top-eight – finished first in the classic, and combined with the alpine team’s narrow second-place finish in giant slalom, the Tigers have a hefty eight-point lead over Aspen, making it a two-team race to the finish. Summit clocked in at 338 points, Aspen at 330.

Third-place Battle Mountain is more than 30 back.

The girls have a much smaller lead, just three points over Aspen, 307-304. Steamboat Springs is 11 behind Summit in third place, and Nederland is 13 back.

The Summit alpine squads both put two skiers on the podium.

For the girls, Ellie Hartman led the way, finishing second with a time of 1 minute, 28 seconds. Freshman Anne Parker was third, less than 3 seconds behind her teammate.

It was an all-around impressive day for the Parker family, as Anne’s older brother, Ian, finished third on the boys’ side of the race.

Will Cutler, who missed much of the season due to injury, finished second to lead the Tiger boys.

But while the four podium positions were impressive, Barth said it was the third-place finishers for Summit on both sides who made the real difference.

Each school counts its top three for the team score, and for Summit, both Hannah Price and Matty Baldwin came up huge.

The GS course on Aspen Highlands was reset for the second run, and Barth said it was made much “tougher and tighter.” Five of the top-10 skiers from Run 1 went off course on their second trips down. With the standings changing drastically, Barth said it was key for his team to get its third skier to finish smoothly.

That’s exactly what Price and Baldwin did. Price moved up seven spots in Run 2 into 11th place, and Baldwin moved up eight to finish 10th.

“That was huge,” Barth said. “Matty’s seven spots is basically our (overall team) lead right now, and Hannah did basically the same thing for the girls.”

The Nordic race wasn’t quite as dramatic, although the Tigers were equally impressive.

After McCrerey, sophomore Jackson Hill led a strong Summit contingent by finishing in fourth. Troy Meeker was eighth to round out the scoring.

Julia Hayes failed to defend her classic title but still skied her way onto the podium by finishing third.

“It wasn’t the happiest, but it wasn’t bad,” Hayes said, certainly disappointed. “It definitely could’ve gone better – I wanted it to go better, but it just wasn’t in the cards.”

Cali Greksa was 21st, and Katherine Pappas skied through a concussion caused by a hard crash to come in 36th.

“She was definitely hurt but skied as hard as she could,” Nordic coach Hannah Taylor said. ” … Overall, the girls skied well, but it’s all going to come down to the wire.”

Today’s events are slalom for alpine (9:30 a.m.) and a mass-start skate race for Nordic (3:30 p.m.). Both formats can cause the standings to shake up quite a bit.

“Should be a good finale, full of drama,” Barth said.

Hayes said she hopes to help her team eliminate the drama altogether. She knows an individual win in the skate may be the difference between her team holding onto its lead.

“I’m definitely looking to go out and win and put as many points up for my team as possible,” she said. “There’s not a lot of room for error, and we need to get it done.”

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