Friday, Jan. 10, brought chilly temps, four inches of fresh snow, and a large competitive field to the season-opening giant slalom race at Beaver Creek. The mostly young Lake County Panthers ski-racing team had an eye-opening experience that yielded mixed results.

For the girls, junior Taylor Duel led the team with a very fast fourth-place overall finish out of a field of 122 racers. She was followed by freshman Rowynn Slivka, who placed 15th overall. Junior Michaelah Main (competing in both alpine and Nordic skiing as a “skimeister”) finished 47th and missed the state championship qualifying placement by only six places despite battling illness. Sophomore skimeister Elona Greene finished 71st, freshman Gabbie Tait 78th, junior and first-time racer Maddie Porter 79th, and sophomore skimeister Morgan Holm 85th.

Out of 110 boys, freshman Eddie Glaser led the team as the first Panther boy to qualify for the state championship, finishing 35th. Teammate and fellow freshman Matt Cairns (a skimeister) finished 41st after a hip-check in the first run.

The 35 female racers that crashed during the race included freshman Lanee Dziura, who crashed in her first run, and junior Cassidy Gillis, who lost a ski in her second run. For the boys, Senior Kyle Rongstad crashed just before the finish in his first run while freshman Jace Peters (a skimeister) crashed in a rut during his second run. There were 34 other male racers who did not finish the race.

“It was a tough day for all the racers,” said Coach Danielle Ryan. “The decision to run 438 starts on the same course set resulted some scary course conditions. There’s only so much you can do when you get in a rut, get light on a ski and it comes off. Still, we’re proud of the tenacity our kids showed along with the camaraderie and teamwork of those that had a rough day.”

The High School Panthers travel to Loveland Friday, Jan. 17 for the second giant slalom qualifier of the season.

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