Five Clear Creek skiers qualify for state

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Golddiggers struggle at Ski Cooper, Snow Mountain Ranch

By Alissa Noe

After a strong Loveland race that saw five Clear Creek skiers qualify for state, the Golddiggers struggled to get the job done last weekend at Ski Cooper and Snow Mountain Ranch.

On Jan. 18 at Loveland in the giant slalom, despite adverse conditions from a blustery snowstorm, Brandon Pennell, Nino Lutz, Wes Davies, Avery Schell and Hannah Pedersen finished in the top 33 percent of the field, ensuring they’ll be at the state meet next month.

Junior Madi Kish, who finished 36th overall and missed the cut by eight spots, finished her GS in 47.81 seconds. She explained that the snowstorm truncated the competition to one run per gendered group instead of the usual two because skiers spent much of the day pushing the fresh snow off the course.

“The conditions, visibility and whatnot were a little tough, but overall, the snow was super decent,” she said. “It wasn’t hard to get an edge in at all. The course ran pretty well; the only fallback was the weather. It took forever to slip the course and get the race going, but that was the only setback.”

She believed her teammates had their best races of the year, even if it was only their third meet.

Her coach was thrilled.

“I think this is the most we’ve had qualified in the six years I’ve been coaching,” Brian Inman said. “To already have five kids qualified, in the six years I’ve been coaching, we’ve never had that many qualify. I’m hoping we’re still going to get a couple more. That bodes well for bringing a strong team to state in the next few weeks. I’m really happy with how the team’s been performing so far.”

Ski Cooper and

Snow Mountain Ranch

On Friday, the Diggers found themselves out of the top third in their slalom race at Ski Cooper. It was, after all, their first slalom race of the year.

“The Loveland race was the giant slalom, but I think just with that being our home mountain and everything, we all were comfortable with it and did really well,” Schell said. “The Cooper race was our first slalom race of the year, but it was kind of weird. We had some bad luck. Some of the girls were out with injuries and stuff, so it wasn’t our best day.”

Schell finished the slalom in 2:22.13 at 33rd. The male skiers had to finish in the top 24 to qualify for state. Pennell’s top finish for the boys was at 27th. For the girls, Elsie Gothman barely missed the mark by finishing 28th; the top 27 qualified.

On Saturday, in the Nordic race at Snow Mountain Ranch, the Diggers struggled even more.

While Nordic isn’t Clear Creek’s strongest suit, the Diggers did get a major boost from one of its youngest skiers. Gothman, a sophomore, earned a high finish in the first of two races, which secured her a top starting spot in the second race.

In the pursuit competition, the skiers started out with a 3K classic cross country run in the morning, then completed a 5K skate race in the afternoon. The top finishers from the first competition got a head start in the second.

“It’s kind of neat because you can see the person that you want to beat in front of you,” Inman explained. “They start about 10 seconds in front of you, and then it’s your job to pursue them and try to pass them and as many people in front of you because they’ve got a faster time. It’s kind of an advantage to be one of those individual starters because then you can see the people you want to pass so you can advance your placement.”

No Golddigger finished higher than Gothman, who took 89th.