Nordic Column: Student skiers see big successes this season |

Nordic Column: Student skiers see big successes this season

Jeff Russell
Grand Nordic
Middle Park High School junior Sylvia Brower leads a pack of racers at the state ski championships on Saturday. Brower went on to take the title for the classic technique.
Jeff Russell / Courtesy photo

As February draws to a close, we can sense hints of March in the warming air, the lengthening days, and the crisp crunch underfoot.

Winter, up through the main winter months, has been mostly kind, if not generous. There have been no large storms to bury us in feet of snow, snarling traffic and shutting businesses down for a reason other than a pandemic. Cool temperatures have kept the snow in decent condition, with occasional small touch-ups from small passing storms.

The deep freezes that seemed to be relics of the past came and went without lingering. We made it through without a January thaw to decimate the snowpack, as has happened in some years past. And even though we didn’t really get started until the passing of the holidays, the winter Nordic fun season has been one that has made and continues to add fond memories to the mental scrapbooks of ski seasons past.

One of those scrapbook-worthy memories includes the making of a champion, as junior Sylvia Brower lead the 5k girls classic mass start race from start to finish, to become the 2022 Cross Country Skiing State Champion in classic technique.

During a season that started with snow so lean that a 15-20 minute walk through dry grasses and mud was required just to get on snow and practice; a season that had the specter of a virus hanging around in the air, waiting to knock skiers out of their bindings and off the active racer list; a season where employees to do the work that we all take for granted, such as driving buses and grooming trails, were hard to find; during that season, with these challenges, our local skiers persevered.

Having one champion in the ranks does not place a ski team on the podium. All the skiers on the Middle Park High School cross country ski team deserve recognition for working hard through a season of adversity, for all of the reasons listed above and more. And while the teams did not find the scores to place Middle Park at the top in either boys or girls teams rankings, they did take 3rd position in the league for both boys and girls after a recalculation of relay scores was made.

Additionally, when all team scores of both males and females are combined, the top spot is right where we find ourselves, showing a breadth of skill across discipline and gender.

One more race will cap off the season as the teams head up to Steamboat for one final competition — a sprint race for the Tour De Northern Colorado series finale — on Saturday at the Steamboat Touring Center.

Racers will sprint over a 1.5 kilometer course and the top two winners get to move on to the next round. Sprints are very exciting from a spectator point of view, as you get to see more of the action and multiple finishes, as racers go head to head, advancing to the climax of a final.

As far as our local weather, we very disappointingly missed out on this last big storm, as major accumulations in the southwest, central and northern mountains, made us scratch our heads about where the deep was and why it wasn’t here. While the media pronounced grand happenings in “the mountains,” these generalized predictions apparently didn’t apply to us.

Watching the radar maps, we found ourselves in no-man’s land, with snow all around but never really falling under the white blobs advancing across the screen. The models showed a steady pattern of snow up and down the Front Range, east of the Continental Divide, and a large mass in the southwestern mountains, but our county remained clear, as the cold air mass that came down from higher latitudes missed us to the northeast, and the moisture in the south favored the San Juans.

Not to lose hope, though, as March is known to be one of Colorado’s snowiest months. Let’s hope it’s a good one!

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