Grand Nordic: From Grand County Colorado; Colorado’s best Nordic talent

Diana Lynn Rau
Grand Nordic

Grand Country schools are the training grounds for our athletes of tomorrow. With the predominance of winter weather, great mountainous terrain and therefore excellent availability of winter sports, Grand Nordic tries to introduce youngsters to an outdoor sport that can take them almost anywhere in the State of Colorado or the Rocky Mountains. We offer Nordic skis and sometimes boots to children in preschool, elementary, and recreation departments. We then support kids in middle school, be they advanced skiers or beginners. And in high school, when kids must purchase their own equipment join more elite paid training programs that can lead to higher competition levels, we offer scholarships for these expenses.

And our locals do excel… the season for MPHS started Dec 17 at Snow Mountain Ranch with a skate race between Middle Park, Steamboat and Poudre Valley high schools–the race/tour de North Colorado. Elizabeth Hammond was first woman and Gray Barker was second man in closely contested races. After Gould races were canceled due to road closures, the Jan 15 skate race in Steamboat produced a girls sweep with Sylvia Brower, Elizabeth Hammond and Haley Miller finishing 1-2-3; Gray Barker, Dane Jensen and Ewan Gallagher sweeping 1-2-3 ; and Kyle Vogelbacher and Kadin Starr finishing 6th and 7th respectively.

At the first state qualifier—a Gold Run skate race, MPHS was missing our club racers (WP Comp Center kids raced in more elite Rocky Mountain Division races). Several kids were also sick, so we fielded a very small team. MPHS still captured a girls 1-2-3 sweep, with Elizabeth Hammond, Haley Miller, and Annie Kuhns tieing them for 4th . And only 4 boys raced, tieing them for 7th. The second state qualifier was a dual race classic and skate at Maloit Park in Minturn with all the faster skiers present. The MPHS girls’ team tied for 2nd and boys finished 3rd. Even with no club kids present for the relay races in Leadville, the girls team took 2nd and boys 4th. The last state qualifier in Steamboat was a classic race with all of state’s best skiers present, and Middle Park dominated again, with the girls finishing 2nd and boys 1st.

Then came the much-anticipated State Championships held at Snow Mountain Ranch Feb 17 and 18. This paper featured a picture of local Sylvia Brower blowing away the girls classic field on the 17th. A champion is born indeed! MPHS women led the field of some 13 schools by almost 20 points. The men finished in 2nd behind Eagle Valley by one point. The reporter from Summit County reported only on the Thursday skate race in which the Panthers were 3rd and 5th respectively. Races following the States were in Steamboat, a 5K classic in which the girls led by Sylvia Brower, finished 2nd and the boys in 1st by sheer numbers of top finishers led by Gray Barker. At season’s end the MPHS women tied for 2nd led by Sylvia Brower and Elizabeth Hammond and the men in 3rd led by Gray Barker and Ewan Gallagher in the 3K classic at Maloit Park.

Our local kids did very well in a season that was off to a thin-cover start and difficult courses while all of us coped with the huge snow dumps that followed. Sickness and COVID-19 protocols added to the confusion. For the State Championships, parents and other locals came out to volunteer at SMR to provide a great course, excellent hospitality, good coordination, timing and officiating to the visiting teams and families from all over the State. Hats off to coordinator Maire Sullivan and everyone for that performance…

Probably the last competition of the Season is coming up this weekend March 12 and 13 at Snow Mountain Ranch: the Annual Snow Mountain Stampede, one day of Skate and one day of Classic racing. Either day, choose from a FREE 2K kids race, a 12.5K, a 25K race or Tour, or a 50K marathon – all run on a 12.5K loop at Snow Mountain Ranch. Volunteers are always needed so for direct links for both registration information and volunteering. Finish out the season in grand style, two days, two races, BE THE BOSS!

Then get ready for crust skiing…



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