Leadville’s Nordic Panthers Place Third at State Meet
The Lake County High School Girls Nordic team placed 3rd at the Colorado High School State Championships on February 23 & 24 in Steamboat Springs. Since the only two schools to best Lake County were the private schools Vail Mountain School (VMS) and Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS), Lake County claimed the honor of being the fastest public school Nordic team in the state.
“I’m so proud of the team. They worked hard all summer, fall, and winter, and the podium finish proves how that hard work pays off,” Coach Karl Remsen said after the Meet.
Thursday was an individual start skate race at the Steamboat Springs Touring Center. Harper Powell had her best skate race ever and placed 10th. Caroline and Ariel Benney placed within a few tenths of a second of one another in 13th and 14th respectively. Whitney White was close behind in 18th and was the fastest 4th skier of any team. Molly Lenhard had a great finish to place 39th and Jackie Williams was right behind her in 42nd place.
As a team, the girls scored 146 points to place 3rd behind VMS and CRMS. They just squeaked by Battle Mountain, who had 143 points and Summit who had 142 points.
Friday was a mass start classic race. Caroline led the team from the gun, just missing a top ten in a sprint finish and placing 11th. Ariel followed her sister across the line and placed 14th for the second day in a row. Whitney White secured the 3rd place finish for the girls by placing 16th.
“It was awesome to watch the girls all come by so close together and up front,” noted assistant coach Andrew Coffin afterwards. “It was just a blur of purple coming by me at the three kilometer mark.”
Harper had a tough start to the race as another girl stepped on her pole, ripping it off her hand. She was stuck and then had to go back to retrieve it, so fifteen seconds into the race she was in last place by twenty meters. Harper described what went through her head afterwards, “I just kept calm and knew that there was plenty of time to make up ground.” Make up ground she did, passing nearly 50 skiers over the five kilometers to place 17th.
Molly and Jackie improved on their finishes from the day before, with Molly placing 33rd and Jackie taking 40th. Freshman Abby Holm also competed in the classic competition. She entered the day seeded 60th but outskied many girls ranked ahead of her to place 44th.
VMS once again was the fastest team, followed by CRMS and then Lake County who scored 145 points. Unlike the day before, the Panthers had a safe distance between them and 4th (Summit with 138 points).
Coach Remsen summed up the races from the Panthers by saying, “What a great performance by the girls. We had four skiers in the top 20 on both days, something only 1st place VMS did as well. We would have placed 3rd even if you remove one of our top four because of our depth.”
The team will miss Panther seniors Harper and Whitney next year, but the other five state qualifiers will be back again in 2018 to once again compete for a podium finish as a team. Congratulations on a good season!
The Lake County Nordic Boys Team had five skiers compete in the Colorado High School State Championships in Steamboat Springs February 23 & 24. The team placed 8th for the weekend out of thirteen teams with Nordic skiers.
Through dumping snow, the boys raced around a five-kilometer loop at the Steamboat Springs Touring Center in an individual start skate race on Thursday.
Joe Koch led the team with his best race of the season, placing 19th. Brandon Hanson climbed through the middle of the course well and placed 26th. Freshman Conner Lenhard had a key race to be the third scorer for the team and placed 49th. Zayden Tufte fought through the remnants of a cold and placed 59th. Sam Frykholm was 66th, a solid finish for a freshman in his first state race.
The boys team placed 7th on the day, just besting host Steamboat Springs in 8th by one point. “Conner really came through when it mattered for us,” noted Coach Karl Remsen. “He wasn’t in our top three at any of the regular season races, but he was ready to step up and ski fast today.”
Friday was a five-kilometer classic race at the famed Howelson Hill. The course climbed for three and a half kilometers before dropping back down into the stadium and the finish. With some fresh snow and cold weather, the classic skiing was excellent for all the competitors.
Joe once again led the Panthers, this time placing 28th. Thirty seconds later, Brandon Hanson finished up his career by placing 34th. Zayden had a strong classic race despite his lingering illness and was 42nd, at the front of a large pack of skiers. Conner doubled poled across the line a few seconds later to place 46th, and Sam was only ten seconds behind that in 54th.
The boys couldn’t quite match their 7th place from the day before, placing 8th for the day and securing 8th overall for the championships as a Nordic team. When the alpine team’s scores were combined, the boys ended up 12th as an overall ski team out of fifteen total teams.
Coach Remsen noted afterwards, “The team had a good couple of days, and there is a lot to look forward to in our future as well. We will miss Brandon, but we will return Joe, Zayden, Conner, and Sam for next year.”