One of the most star-studded champs in recent memory will gather at Maloit Park on Saturday for the second race of the Colorado High School Ski League season. The state qualifying event opens with a classic 3-kilometer wave start race at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. for the boys and girls, respectively, and ends with a 5-kilometre mass start race. kilometers for each gender at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. .
Eagle Valley’s Ferguson St. John, undefeated this season including two non-championship races at Leadville in late December and early January, will look to continue his hot streak at Minturn.
“This guy is just a beast,” Battle Mountain coach Jeff Apps said.
St. John, who has dual citizenship and often traveled to his mother’s native New Zealand before the pandemic, hopes to study mechanical engineering while finding some sort of competitive outlet in the country in the future. islander. One person who cracked the on-snow code for St. John is teammate Lukas Bergsten. At the Arrowhead Uphill Skimo competition, Bergsten won the age group duel 0-19 by 19 seconds.
“Actually, I’m an off-piste skier and I just drag Ferguson with me for the race because it’s fun,” Bergsten joked. “We both had a lot of fun, so we are looking at some skimo racing after the Nordic season is over. We ski every day together and we always train together, so it’s really good.
“It’s been really good — the team is really tight,” St. John said of his season.
When not tossing AP stats or math questions, the dynamic duo and close friends lead a Devils squad ready to challenge Aspen for the state tag team title Feb. 17-18 at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby.
“Our goal is to win 100%,” Bergsten said.
“It’s definitely within reach,” agreed St. John. “We have to take the opportunity we have with the speed of our team this year.”
An increase in practice volume—some Devils are doing double workouts—fueled the team’s growth. “We’ve been able to ski locally a lot more this year, which has been nice,” Bergsten said. St. John also noted an increased focus on pole vault speed and technique.
“There’s definitely a lot more excitement about the team because of the amount of effort put in and everyone wants to do their best to give back to Steiner for what he put in,” St. John on third-year coach Paul Steiner. .
On Saturday, they will enjoy the camaraderie of the inter-county competition. Their favorite Battle Mountain fall foes include Sullivan Middaugh, currently the second-ranked skier in all-state points.
“It’s great fun skiing with Sully. It’s really cool that we have a bunch of guys in the valley who aren’t club skiers who are still there and pretty quick,” Bergsten noted of the Xterra champ.
Both St. John and Bergsten expect Middaugh to take their first steps on the steep climbs, while they’ll have to wait to assert their dominance on the flatter sections, where the double pole technique is most effective. .
” Game ! Apps said of the friendly matchup between Middaugh and the Devils pair. Apps had his crew at Maloit Park all week to practice mass starts and navigate the technical descents of the FIS-approved course.
“We’re where I want us to be,” coach Jeff Apps said, noting the tender balance between showing competition cards and hitting a physiological peak.
Will Brunner, a Huskies racer and Vail Mountain School skier will also be there. The girls race is also filled with racing talent.
Eagle Valley’s top skier is Vail Daily’s Fall Athlete of the Year, northern Arizona’s Sam Blair. Blair has been finding her footing on skis recently, placing second overall behind Summit’s Ella Hagen in last weekend’s race at Gold Run. Hagen, another elite prep rider from Colorado, is also expected to carry the Tiger contingent this weekend.
Even the Battle Mountain team’s win last weekend testified to the depth of what Apps calls the “Parish Effect,” in recognition of the Battle Mountain cross-country coach’s consistently successful program. Lindsey Whitton, Presley Smith and Haley McKenzie were the scoring trio at Gold Run and have skied well all year after their strong fall seasons.
“Girls are very malleable – you tell them what to do and they will do it. We are very lucky this way,” Apps said.
The Lake County Talent Pool
Lake County’s Jace Peters could throw a spanner in the agenda of any Valley athlete. The junior Panther shaved 90 seconds off his 5k race record this fall and translated aerobic form into a fiery Nordic campaign. Competing in Rocky Mountain Nordic Division races alongside his school’s CHSSL events, Peters is well positioned to qualify for the Junior Nationals in Minneapolis in March.
“He will also destroy next year,” admitted St. John.
“I think in a classic race it’s too close to call; any one of them could win,” Lake County coach Karl Remsen said in an email regarding the boys’ tough competition on Saturday.
“Jace has worked hard over the past year with the help of his other coaches,” noted Remsen. Peters’ mom and dad made plans for the race and the weight room while college program coach and former Dartmouth skier Christine Horning helped improve his technique.
Horning’s daughters and Peters’s teammates Panther Rose and Adele, part-time skiers from Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, are two of the top U18 and U20 skiers in the country, respectively. Both competed in the US Senior Nationals to start the year; Rose’s performances earned him a trip to the U18 Nations Cup in Norway, which was canceled due to COVID. With Adele sidelined with an ankle injury, she will headline Saturday’s women’s event.
Remsen, who has built a tremendous program in Leadville, also home of Summit Nordic Ski Club athlete Nina Schamberger, one of best U20 skiers in the worldsaid the idea that his athletes seek additional growth from others is encouraged.
“I want my team to learn to ski, learn to train, and fall in love with a sport they can do for the rest of their lives,” Remsen said of his philosophy.
“I think my openness to athletes being able to do other things during the winter has helped grow my team.” By striking a balance between meeting the needs of both the most motivated and the beginners, his group has grown to 24 athletes, only four of whom focus solely on Nordic.
“I’m always excited to see my new skiers come out and mix it up,” Remsen said, noting his excitement to see Logan Charles and Raymond Harvey complete their first career classic race.
At the end of the day, the apps summed up how everyone in the lean ski community feels about a tough day of racing.
“If everyone is Nordic, everyone wins.”