Facing two consecutive weekends of racing, the Durango Nordic Ski Club showed its resolve in wide-ranging weather conditions in Aspen.
The club competed Jan. 21-22 in Aspen for its second Junior National Qualifying races of the season. The event, hosted by the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, is known for a challenging venue, and changing elements from Saturday to Sunday kept all the participants on their toes.
Saturday featured sunny skies for the mass start skate races. Classic sprint races were held on a 1.2-kilometer loop. After qualifying, racers were placed into sprint heats.
“Sprints are always a challenge as there are so many elements to consider,” Durango Nordic head coach Paige Elliott said in a news release.
“Athletes need to be both physically tough to ski as hard as they can multiple times as well as mentally engaged so they can stay focused throughout a long day of racing. This was a great learning experience for the team.”
As the day progressed, the formerly crisp, clear weather became stormy, Elliott said.
Undeterred by the heavy falling snow during her final race, 12-and-under skier Maggie Holcomb rolled to a third-place finish for a bronze medal.
The top 30 athletes in the 20-, 18- and 16-and-under categories moved on to compete in heats. Durango’s Maggie Wigton placed ninth among 20-and-under girls, while Marit May was 15th and Carter Reiter 25th.
Rebecca Bowers led the Durango team in the 16-and-under category in 17th.
Eighteen skiers moved on for the 14- and 12-and-under age groups. In the 14-and-under boys race, Ethan Craig skied to a fifth-place finish. Teammate Wiley Corra took sixth.
For the 14-and-under girls, Georgia Mynatt was fifth, Ruth Holcomb was sixth, Halle Moore was 10th and Ruby May finished 14th.
Durango Nordic’s youngest competitors, Andre Craig and Betty Holcomb, skied a shortened 1-kilometer loop. Craig was fourth for the 10-and-under boys, while Holcomb placed sixth in the 10-and-under girls competition.
The next day, the 20- and 18-and-under athletes raced two laps of a 5-kilometer course that Elliott called demanding. Wigton finished sixth in her race, while May was 15th and Reiter 21st.
Bowers finished 16th in the 16-and-under girls 5-kilometer race.
Athletes 14-and-under raced a 3-kilometer course, and that’s where Corra shined brightest with a first-place finish in the 14-and-under boys race.
Craig finished sixth.
Ruth Holcomb skied to a silver medal in the 14-and-under girls race.
Mynatt placed ninth, Moore was 10th and Ruby May claimed 23rd.
In the 12-and-under female’s race, Maggie Holcomb earned her second bronze medal of the weekend. Tanner Coddington finished 19th for the 12-and-under boys.
Andre Craig skied to another fourth-place finish in his 1K race for the 10-and-under boys. Also racing 1K, Betty Holcomb skied to sixth.
Further representing Durango for the weekend was Four Corners Timing, a local timing business that traveled to Aspen to time the various races.
Durango Nordic’s next Junior National Qualifier will be held this weekend in Steamboat Springs.
“Back-to-back races can be a whirlwind, but our athletes proved how tough they are this past weekend, and I’m excited to see what they do in Steamboat,” Elliott said.
“We’ll be taking advantage of all the new snow in town to get some quality skiing in before heading out on Friday.”