The ski season is finally here. No, I’m not talking about your personal quest for that 100-day pin — Monday was my 35th day, if you’re keeping track — but the start of the competitive high school season.
The Aspen High School alpine and Nordic ski teams both got on course for the first time over the weekend, the initial step toward another run at the state championship. The AHS boys are the two-time defending state champs, while the girls were runner up a year ago after winning it all in 2018.
First, let’s talk about Nordic. AHS opened its season Saturday at a 5K classic mass start at Spring Gulch, an event hosted by Carbondale’s Colorado Rocky Mountain School with help from the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. The Skiers swept both the boys and girls team titles.
In the boys race, Aspen’s Taiga Moore finished second in 17 minutes, 58.6 seconds to lead his team. Steamboat’s Sumner Cotton won, finishing about 11 seconds ahead of Moore. Aspen’s Noah Wheeless was fourth and Anders Weiss was seventh.
The girls race was won by CRMS’s Kate Oldham, an AVSC product. Aspen’s Elsie Weiss was second in 21:16.5, roughly 50 seconds behind Oldham. Aspen’s Eva McDonough finished fifth, Emma Barsness seventh — she was the runner-up at state last winter — and Jordan Miner 10th for four in the top 10.
“It was a perfect day for classic ski racing and I am proud to see so many of our skiers qualify for states this early in the season,” AHS Nordic coach Travis Moore wrote in an email. “There was a lot of positive energy within the team and it was contagious.”
Now, for alpine. Aspen competed in a giant slalom on Friday at Beaver Creek, with the boys finishing second as a team and the girls coming in third. Battle Mountain won both the boys and girls titles at Beaver Creek.
The highlight was AHS freshman Samantha Edelman, who won the girls race with a two-run combined time of 2:20.57 to win by a full second over Battle Mountain’s Berit Frischholz. The only other top 10 finisher for the AHS girls was Edie Sherlock, who was eighth. Four others finished in the top 20.
The AHS boys had nine finish in the top 13, including five in the top eight. Junior James Kelly led the way by finishing third, while Thomas Morris was fourth, Max Godomsky fifth and Connor Stephen sixth. Battle Mountain’s Jakub Pecinka and Xander Armistead finished 1-2, respectively.
The Skiers are looking to add to an already impressive history. The AHS boys ski team has won nine state titles, tied with Durango for second most all time. Summit’s 18 championships lead the way. The AHS girls have won eight state titles, second most behind Summit’s 21.
Aspen does have some big ski boots to fill this season, including those of Levyn Thomas, last year’s girls giant slalom state champion, and Everett Olson, last year’s boys Nordic skate champion and classic runner up. The team also graduated Nordic standout Colt Whitley and alpine standout Trey Thorpe, who was runner up last year in both GS and slalom.
Next up, the AHS alpine team heads to Loveland on Friday for another GS. The first slalom is Jan. 24 at Copper Mountain. The Skiers host their lone home event, a GS at Aspen Highlands, on Feb. 6.
The AHS Nordic team is off this week before next competing Jan. 25 at Lake County. Their home races are Feb. 8 on the trails near AVSC and the high school.
The state championship is Feb. 27 and 28 and will be hosted by both Battle Mountain and Vail Mountain School. The alpine events will be held at Beaver Creek, while the Nordic events take place at Maloit Park near Minturn. Battle Mountain High School in Edwards will host the awards banquet.