MOUNT BACHELOR — Fiona Max says her twin sister, Isabel, has the better finishing kick.
But on Friday afternoon it was Fiona who won the sprint to the finish, winning the 6K Oregon Interscholastic Ski Racing Association nordic state championship freestyle race in 19 minutes, 5.5 seconds. Isabel Max finished 5.1 seconds behind, and their Summit teammate Liv Downing was third in 19:27.0.
“I got lucky this time — usually I don’t have the kick, I have to slowly make my way up,” said Fiona Max. “Izzy usually has a good kick and hauls at the end, and then Liv is the team component of the little trio. She keeps us in pace and keeps us in line and tells us when to go. She holds us together.”
The 1-2-3 sweep puts the Storm girls in first place in the team standings with six points after the first event (the classic 5K race and 3x800-meter relay races will be held Saturday). Bend High is second in the girls standings with 21 points, Redmond Proficiency Academy is third with 40, Mountain View is fifth with 49 and Ridgeview is eighth with 88.
Multiple racers said the punchy snow on the Mt. Bachelor nordic trails produced quick conditions on downhill stretches, and Fiona Max said there were times she almost felt like she was alpine skiing.
“This race was a lot more about staying calm the whole time and not completely losing your mind, which you can definitely do in a race,” said Fiona Max, a freshman. “It was really about tucking and mooching off other people, just working together as a team and stay behind each other or use each other as wind blocks.”
RPA’s Sarah Kilroy was fourth in 20:19.8. Gemma Munck finished fifth and was the fastest Bend finisher at 20:27.9, although she started the race in the third wave and so crossed the finish line after her teammate Olivia Colton, who came in sixth.
“That’s the hardest I’ve worked all year,” Colton said while gasping for breath at the finish line. “I didn’t go into it feeling the greatest, but I thought this is one of my last races of the year, so I have to put all of my work into this race. I think I had a lot of confidence in the end, and I was like, I’m going to be smart about the race and efficient.”
Erin Smith was the top Mountain View girls finisher in 13th place, and Natalie Hill led Ridgeview with a 15th-place finish.
Summit also swept the top three places in the boys freestyle race, as Thomas Schoderbek beat his Storm teammate Will Lange by just over a second to win in 16:13.2. Schoderbek and Lange collapsed into the snow and lay there as Samuel Schoderbek crossed the line in third at 17:00.6.
“It was a lot of fun,” Thomas Schoderbek said. “I was hoping it would come down to the Summit guys. We got some really good skiing in.”
Cole Fuller, who finished sixth, was the top Bend skier with a time of 17:43.1, and Albert Hesse of Ridgeview was eighth. Jackson DeWitt of Mountain View came in 14th.
Summit is comfortably atop the boys standings with six points after Friday’s race, while Hood River Valley is second with 22 and South Eugene third with 28. Bend is in fourth place with 37 and Mountain View is fifth with 56. Ridgeview is seventh with 73.
“Just from watching, it looked like they raced pretty good,” Mountain View coach Eric Martin said of his boys and girls teams before results were posted on Friday. “We’d be ecstatic with a top-three (team finish), but top five would be good. We’ll see where we end up.”
The National Weather Service is calling for a sunny but chilly day at Bachelor on Saturday, with a high temperature of about 22 degrees. Martin said the cold weather might not be fun for spectators or for skiers as they warm up before the race, but it will take all the guesswork out of waxing the skis for the classic race.
“It’ll be the strongest skiers that win tomorrow, not the wax,” Martin said.
Despite winning the skate race Friday, Thomas Schoderbek said he prefers classic skiing.
“It seems more relaxed to me — I’m not as good at the quick-on-my feet stuff,” he explained.
And on the girls side, Fiona Max insisted that her sister and Downing have the upper hand when it comes to classic racing.
“I’m really excited; I love classic skiing a little more than skate,” Isabel Max said. “It’s fun, because you can just get into a rhythm and stick with that rhythm, whereas skate you kind of have to keep your tempo up.”
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