As the season winds down toward the final Junior National Qualifier in Durango’s backyard, 15 impressive athletes from the Durango Nordic Ski Club put together strong races in Steamboat Springs.
The team competed Jan. 28-29 in an event hosted by the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. It was the third national qualifier of the season and featured a skate sprint race Saturday and a classic interval start race Sunday.
With subzero temperatures early Saturday, the start of the event was delayed one hour to protect the respiratory health of the young athletes.
The top 30 athletes in each qualifying race were placed into sprint heats to determine placers.
Saturday’s racing was highlighted by the 14-and-under girls, as Ruth Holcomb claimed a silver medal. Georgia Mynatt finished fourth, Halle Moore placed ninth and Ruby May was 31st.
The 14-and-under boys also earned some hardware, as Wiley Corra placed second and Ethan Craig fourth.
Maggie Wigton placed sixth for the 18- and 20-and-under girls. Marit May took 20th and Carter Reiter was 22nd.
The 16-and-under boys benefited from the return of Cobe Freeburn and Logan Moore, who both missed the races in Aspen a week earlier because of illness. Freeburn placed seventh and Moore was ninth.
In the 12-and-under boys race, Fred Reiter was eighth, while Maggie Holcomb earned a bronze medal in third for the 12-and -under girls.
In the 10-and-under group, Betty Holcomb placed eighth in the girls races, while Andre Craig also earned bronze for the boys.
“We raced a classic sprint in Aspen last weekend, so I think our athletes were excited to take what they learned there and apply it to this race,” Durango Nordic head coach Paige Elliott said in a news release. “They not only skied hard but were very strategic about their race plans. That sort of thing is a lot of fun to see as a coach.”
Warmer temperatures arrived Sunday to the delight of the athletes. Ruth Holcomb earned her second silver medal of the weekend in the 2.5-kilometer 14-and-under race. Mynatt was fifth, Moore took 11th and May placed 22nd. In the 14-and-under boys race, Corra claimed silver, with teammate Ethan Craig right behind in third for bronze.
Another medal was claimed in the 12-and-under girls race, with Maggie Holcomb taking another bronze. In the same age group for boys, Fred Reiter skied to a strong fifth-place finish.
On the 5K course, Freeburn was fifth for the 16-and-under boys for his personal best result this year. Logan Moore finished 13th.
In the older age group skiing 10K, Maggie Wigton placed sixth, while Marit May was 12th and Carter Reiter 25th.
The 10-and-under group raced 1.5K, and Betty Holcomb placed sixth, while Andre Craig was fifth in the boys race.
The final qualifier of the year will come Feb. 18-19 at the Durango Nordic Center. Those who qualify will travel to nationals in early March in Lake Placid, New York.
“I think we saw a lot of breakthrough races this weekend,” Elliott said. “Our athletes seem to just keep racing stronger and stronger, and I can’t wait to see what they do with a home course advantage a few weeks from now.”