Middle Park Nordic team skis well at Devil’s Thumb near Tabernash | SkyHiNews.com

Middle Park Nordic team skis well at Devil’s Thumb near Tabernash

The Middle Park Nordic ski team had its best race of the season Saturday at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, said coach Wade Wilderman.

“I just think as a team, they did really well,” Wilderman said. “We talked a lot about pacing on a long climb like that … and gradually pick up their speed. So I think strategy-wise they skied really smart.”

Saturday’s race was a 5K classic, with long climbs and a “really fun downhill” at the end.

“It helped we skied the course Thursday night,” It really helped them knowing where the top was ” it’s uphill for probably the first two-thirds of the race. And they haven’t really had a race like that yet.”

The girls team skied first; Makenna Morck lead the team, placing 10th with a time of 23:09.9. Mackenzie Wilderman came in at 13th place with a time of 23:34.3. Ryndi Zastrow came in at 17th place with a time of 23:49.9. Samantha Miyauchi placed 25th with a time of 25:06.8.

Zastrow and Morck said it was their highest finish so far.

“We’ve been doing a lot of hill training,” Morck said. “So we were well prepared.”

“We rocked the hills,” Zastrow chimed in, laughing.

The men’s team had a great race as well. Eric Shurson lead the men’s team and placed 12th with a time of 19:59.5. Ben Shipman came in at 15th place with a time of 20:11.2. Matthew Naschak placed 18th with a time of 20:21.4. Alberto Sapien placed 34th with a time of 22:27.9. Hugh McDonough placed 35th with a time of 22:29.2. Nick O’Connor placed 38th with a time of 22:54.7.

Shurson, Naschak, Matt Curran, and McDonough are qualified for the state championships in Steamboat in both classic and skating. Shipman is qualified in classic. Morck, Wilderman and Zastrow are qualified in both classic and skate.

There will be one more skate race Feb. 5 at Nederland before the final state championships at the end of the month. The team won’t have any races from Feb. 5 to 21, Wilderman pointed out, which gives the racers a lot of down time after the Nederland race.

“So we’ll have to really try and stay focused,” he said.

Saturday’s Devil’s Thumb race was the first home race the team has had since 2002. It was the smoothest race so far, Wilderman said, speaking of the cooperation between coaches, parents and other members of the Nordic community. He was also pleased with the way the course was set up despite the harsh winter conditions the night before.”

“Devil’s Thumb did an impeccable job with their grooming ” with it snowing and blowing so much (the night before), we were nervous. (But) it was really set up nice, and the tracks were really well placed.”

The overall winner of the women’s race was Karlie Moore of Vail Mountain School, with a time of 20:27.0.

The overall winner of the men’s race was Sean Woods of Vail Mountain School with a time of 18:09.9.

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