Top-10 finishes from Summit locals Staberg and Bates lead Team USA at ski mountaineering Worlds
When you travel to the other side of the planet to compete at a world championship event, there is fun in giving it your all when racing to the finish line.
That’s precisely the situation Summit County local Elsa Bates found herself in earlier this week when she and her ski mountaineering race skis and skins were pointed toward the uphill finish of the cadet girls individual race at the International Ski Mountaineering Federation World Championships in Villars sur-Ollon, Switzerland. Racing to the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 20 minutes and 7 seconds, Bates’ eight-place finish meant she joined her fellow Summit County and Team USA athlete Grace Staberg in the top 10.
Staberg finished the 24-skier race in sixth place with a time of 01:15:46. Staberg also found herself putting her high-elevation, Summit County endurance on full display during the homestretch of the individual race, where she rallied to improve her position from eighth to sixth on the super technical, steep and icy course in the Swiss Alps. Bates and Staberg said the course consisted of a steep, 60-degree couloir that racers had to bootpack up, among other challenging obstacles.
“I positioned myself well and worked hard but didn’t realize I was in sixth and would’ve taken more risks had I known I was that close to a top-five finish,” Staberg said by email from Switzerland on Wednesday afternoon. “Tactics were important for this race because it was hard to pass.”
The dual performances of Staberg and Bates to finish in the top third of the cadet women’s field in the individual race was a breakthrough for Summit County and Team USA at an event they hope will be a standout world championships for American ski mountaineering.
Staberg has been the shining star for the Summit County contingent, as the Summit High junior also finished in sixth place (37:54) in the vertical race at worlds while Bates (39:48) again took eighth place.
Staberg hoped for a top-five finish entering Wednesday’s vertical race, but she said the course’s flatness proved a challenge as she wasn’t able to use her climbing skills as much as she would have liked versus the international competition. That said, Staberg said she was able to find some success specific to her endurance in the vertical race.
“Because, on the last pitch I was able to pass two girls and grab sixth again,” Staberg said. “I’ll be back in two years for that podium though after working on my gliding technique.”
A slew of Summit County racers competed in other divisions, proving their international mettle as well. In the cadet boy’s vertical race, Jeremiah Vaille finished in 24th place of 49 racers, with a time of 33:56, followed by Sam Burke in 25th (34:08) and Connor Albin in 35th (36:55).
In the 28-skier junior men’s race, Summit County’s Max Bonenberger finished in 22nd place with a time of 33:28, followed by Finn Remias in 24th (35:19).
In the 33-skier senior women’s vertical race, Breckenridge local Jaime Brede skied to a 19th-place finish in a time of 36:11.
Summit’s group of senior women also impressed in the individual women’s race. Racing on the medium course instead of the short course for the cadet girls, Sierra Anderson led the way in the 41-skier race with an 18th-place finish in a time of 01:43:16. She was followed by Nikki LaRochelle in 26th place (1:54:49) and Kate Zander in 27th (1:56:50).
Summit had three junior men’s racers compete on the medium course in the 29-skier event, led by Bonenberger (22nd, 1:57:20), followed by Remias (23rd, 2:02:10) and Sam Wescott (26th, 2:17:50).
In the 49-skier cadet men’s individual race, Summit County’s Albin took 28th with a time of 1:09:08.
In the sprint events, Sierra Anderson took 20th in the 28-skier senior women’s competition, followed by LaRochelle in 31st place and Zander in 33rd. In the 30-skier junior men’s sprint event, Remias’ 23rd-place finish was tops for the Americans, followed by Bonenberger in 24th and Wescott in 28th. In the 50-skier cadet men’s competition, Summit local Paul Hans finished in 29th followed by fellow Summit County competitor Mark Jardim in 36th.
And in the 23-skier cadet women’s sprint competition, Staberg finished in ninth place while Bates took 12th.
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