The High School Nordic Series kicked off this past weekend and many local athletes were out to prove that they knew how to skate. 113 male athletes and 96 female athletes came out to compete in the event, which took place at Maloit Park in Minturn last Saturday. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV), Battle Mountain High School, and Vail Mountain School hosted the competition. The course at Maloit Park came together for the competition just in time thanks to the help of much needed snow.
The continued snowfall didn’t deter spectators or athletes from coming out to compete and watch the race. High Schools from Clear Creek, Aspen, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Eagle Valley, Evergreen, Lake County, Middle Park, Nederland, Ridge View Academy, Steamboat Springs, Summit, and Vail Mountain School, all came out to compete in the 5 km race.
Although Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy (VSSA) hosted the event, the Nordic athletes that attend the school are not allowed to compete in the event. “We are a specialized sports academy, so according to the rules set forth by CHSAA (Colorado High School Activities Association) we are not allowed to compete against other High School’s in the sport of skiing,” says SSCV head nordic coach Dan Weiland. CHSAA is the organization that regulates all high school sports including football and basketball. The purpose of CHSAA is for high school athletes to have equal training and competition environments. VSSA athletes have the opportunity to train all morning during the winter and have the upper hand when it comes to the amount of hours they have on the snow.
The individual winners of the men’s and women’s 5 k race turned out to be brother and sister from Aspen. Local Vail girls from Vail Mountain School (VMS) ended up winning the event and outperforming all other schools. The female VMS skiers, and SSCV athletes, lead the pack early with impressive finishes across the board. Followed closely behind was Summit High School, with Aspen High School placing in third.
Hardenbergh from VMS lead the pack for most of the race only to be passed on the final portion by Hailey Swirbul from Aspen. SSCV athlete Katie Scruggs, who has won a few High School Nordic races before, placed in 6th followed by Clare Baker (SSCV) in 7th and Annie Blakslee (SSCV) in 8th. All four of the VMS girls made the cut off for the state qualifier.
“We have been training here for the past week or so, but it has been a little thin up until last week. The course was a little soft because of the new snow, but it is much better than no snow. We really take these races in to our training plan and ski for our school while we are at it. “It is fun skiing against Hailey. She is also a club skier and I compete against her a lot during the season. It is also just fun to be out here with some classmates and ski for school pride,” says Hardenbergh.
The boy’s side of the race was not as successful for the Vail locals. Keengan Swirbul from Aspen deserves a mention due to his first place win by over a minute. SSCV athlete Joe Barett from Battle Mountain High School had a great race landing in 7th place overall. Cameron Moore, also from Battle Mountain, placed 21st ending up in the top 25 percent of the athletes.
Similar to running, Nordic skiing requires and incredible amount of discipline not only during the race but months before the race during training as well. It is great to see different caliber athletes in these Nordic events, because ultimately it all comes down to getting out there and having fun.