The Summit High School Nordic ski team never disappoints while competing at home. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the team continued to prove that statement as the team hosted a skate race at the Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge for the Tigers’ sole home meet of the season.
Contrary to last weekend where Summit overcame tough, winter storm conditions to place first and third in the skate portion of the Maloit Park Nordic races, the team was met with milder temperatures mixed with shifting wind on Wednesday afternoon.
As snow blew across the course, the girls 5-kilometer skate race started off in waves of athletes. Once all the racers had left the starting area, skiers gritted their teeth throughout the course and tried not to get blown off balance by the howling wind.
Within a few minutes, it became apparent that the race to the finish line was going to be between Summit junior Ella Hagen and Battle Mountain High School’s Lindsey Whitton.
Although the two skiers did not start together, the race to the finish line was tight until Hagen found an extra gear up the final hill to ultimately win the race. Hagen crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 49 seconds to beat Whitton in second place by just under three seconds.
Hagen’s individual race title was followed by several more impressive performances by the rest of the Summit girls Nordic skiing roster. Heidi Frey was the next Tiger in the final results, placing 14th overall in a time of 19:09.66 before Lily Zygulski followed in 15th in 19:12.16. Fiona Florio placed 40th (21:03.75), Katherine Williams took 45th (21:27.27), Milla Phaf placed 73rd (26:01.92) and Madelyn Heil placed 79th (32:52.24).
The strong racing from the girls team resulted in a third-place finish at the team’s home meet. Summit scored 185 points, and Battle Mountain High School won the meet with 209 points.
As the boys field geared up for its race, the wind suddenly died down, clouds cleared and the sun peeked out, raising the temperature considerably from a few minutes ago.
With more favorable race conditions, Summit sophomore Carter Niemkiewicz jetted off the start line and did not let up until he had crossed the finish line. The display of fitness and determination led Niemkiewicz to place second overall in a time of 14:55.73 while Vail Mountain School’s Will Brunner won the race in 14:40.70.
Showing off the team’s depth and intentions to vie for another state title in a few weeks, Summit put five other skiers within the top 30 with junior Josh Shriver leading the way for the crew, placing seventh with a time of 15:23.45.
“I had never raced this course before, and a lot of these trails are just put in for the high school race. I had no idea what to expect,” Shriver said. “I just didn’t overthink too much and started skiing. I felt like I kept it pretty even. It got hard towards the end, but I kept up the tempo and the effort. Some of my teammates had great races, too.”
Parker Osborn placed 10th overall (15:41.89), Bryce Oppito finished in 16th (15:55.40), Cain Steinweg took 19th (16:10.46) and Griffin Heins placed 27th (16:32.00). Malachi Love placed 38th (17:09.14), Donovan Ramey took 42nd (17:13.77), Brody Henning placed 46th (17:31.59) and Owen Fallon placed 57th (17:59.52).
Love and Ramey especially had standout performances and qualified for the state championship skate race, their last opportunity to do so.
Putting seven athletes within the top 40, the Summit boys Alpine ski team placed second at the home meet with a total of 210 points. Poudre School District won the meet with 214 points, and Eagle Valley High School took third.
“We have a crazy team, especially on the boys side in Nordic this year,” Shriver said. “Like our No. 8 or 9 guy could probably be some team’s No. 1 or 2. The depth out there is crazy. If one of us has a bad day, it doesn’t really matter because there are four other guys who will do good.”
The Summit Nordic ski team will now begin prep for the the sprint championships in Steamboat Springs on Feb. 17 and the state Nordic skiing championships in Granby from Feb. 22-23.
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