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Austin cracks top 20 as Tigers ski on Olympic course

Feb 10, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

Lander Valley High School Nordic skiers had a taste of a famous Olympic course at Soldier Hollow Feb. 1-2 in Park City, Utah.

The competition had the best high school Nordic skiers from all around the United States in the two-day event.

"Solider Hollow has lots of really fun skiing," LVHS coach Maggie Heller said. "They have lots of rolling terrain as well as challenging climbs and really fast downhills."

Solider Hollow was the venue for the Nordic events at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"It's a pretty cool experience to be able to race on the same trails that Olympic skiers raced on," Heller said.

Top competition

"We competed against club teams from all around the west at Solider Hollow," Heller said. "Club skiing is generally a much higher level of competition, so it's always kind of an eye-opening and humbling experience for our Wyoming high school kids to race against them."

The first day Friday, Feb. 1, the skiers raced a 1k freestyle events. Saturday, Feb. 2, the Skiers raced a classic.

"It got pretty warm both Friday and Saturday, but they have a solid base of man-made snow, which really seems to hold up under warm conditions," Heller said.

The older boys were in the 15k and the girls raced a 10k. The younger skiers (freshman and sophomores) were in a 5k.

Top Tigers

LVHS skier Louisa Austin finished 18th out of 90 racers in the 10k classic race.

"That was pretty phenomenal," Heller said. "Anytime we get a kid in the top 20 at Solider Hollow ,that is exciting."

Heller said Marten Baur, who joined the team late and didn't start with the field, finished the 15k classic race Saturday.

"He even beat someone," Heller said. "That was definitely the gutsiest performance I saw all day."

Progress

"I think the team is mostly healthy again and looking strong," Heller said. "We're into our taper phase before state, so our goal the next couple of weeks will be to maintain our times and get rested for the state races."

The Tigers raced in Jackson Friday and Saturday. LVHS will host the state meet in two weeks at Beaver Creek.

"I'd like to see some of our sophomore boys and girls step up this weekend and score more points for us," Heller said.

Sophomore skiers are Ella Welsh, Morgan Gramlich, Robbie Coulter and Bailey Selley.

"Bailey is still trying to rehab a knee injury," Heller said. "We'll have to play it by ear and see how it goes."

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