MOUNT BACHELOR — The snow swirled and the wind blew so hard Saturday morning at Mt. Bachelor ski area that the lifts were closed and all alpine events canceled. But across the way at the Mt. Bachelor nordic trails, the second day of the Oregon Interscholastic Ski Racing Association Nordic state championships continued with only minor concessions to the blizzardlike conditions.
Despite chaotic weather, the Summit boys remained in control of the standings with a near-perfect 20 points, winning their third straight title since the OISRA and Oregon High School Nordic organization united in 2015-16. The Summit girls also won their third title in that stretch, although they had to withstand a late push from Bend to do so.
“Today, it was really important that you just have a good attitude about it, which we realized about halfway through the race,” Summit skier Fiona Max joked after the classic race. “It took a while to get going, because everyone’s out here and it’s a little bit miserable. You want to go in happy.
“About half of the team was considering racing in their puffies (puffy jackets). And half the team did. But we got into the start gate, and even though it was blowing sideways we were all smiling. It was a good day.”
Sarah Kilroy of Redmond Proficiency Academy won the girls classic race, which was shortened from 4K to 3.5K due to trail conditions, in 16 minutes, 1.2 seconds. Kilroy’s victory marked the first time a non-Summit skier had won an individual event or relay at the state championship since the 2015-16 season. Annie McColgan of Bend finished second in 16:10.3, and she and her teammates Gemma Munck and Olivia Colton finished the state meet by winning the girls 3x1K relay.
But Isabel Max, a Summit skier who won Friday’s skate race, came in third in the classic race in 16:13.8, and her twin sister, Fiona, followed in fourth place in 16:26.3. Isabel Max’s win in the skate on Friday was enough to earn the girls combined freestyle and classic title, while Fiona was second in the combined and McColgan third. Liv Downing was sixth in Saturday’s classic race in 17:27, and she and the Max sisters teamed up to finish second in the girls relay.
“You know that (the race) is shorter than a training practice — the race is shorter than an episode of ‘Friends,’” Fiona Max said while explaining how she and her teammates kept a positive attitude during the race.
“It’s nice to know that everyone is in the same boat — it’s not like you’re going at three different times of the day,” Downing added. “Everyone’s dealing with the same things you are. Even when you’re in the race and you’re miserable and you’re cold and the wind is blowing sideways, everyone is in that same situation and you have to smile and get through it.”
That effort was enough to win Summit the girls team title with 32 points, narrowly beating Bend, which finished second with 36. RPA was a distant third with 101 points. Mountain View was fourth with 120 points and Ridgeview was fifth with 153.
There was no such drama on the boys side, as Summit’s Samuel Schoderbek won the boys classic race in 14:14.3. His teammates Will Lange and Mario Cacciola finished second and third, respectively, and the three won the boys 3x1K relay in 8:25.7. Ridgeview’s Albert Hesse took fourth place in 15:24.1, and Max Nye was the top Bend finisher in seventh place at 15:50.8. Quinn Olarrea of Mountain View finished 14th in 16:36.5. Bend, which finished second in the boys relay, took second place as a team with 64 points, and South Eugene was third with 102. Mountain View was fourth at 108 points and Ridgeview was fifth with 126.
Several boys said the barrage of snow that fell before and during the morning races obscured the tracks laid down for the event and made for a challenging and slower than usual championship race.
“You have to know that you’re in the same position as everyone else, try and do better with it than they can, because it’s not good weather for them, either,” Nye said. “But it was good waxing weather.”
Nye finished fifth in the freestyle on Friday and fifth overall in the combined, but he said he does not really have a preference between the two disciplines.
“I come home every day, whether it’s skate or classic, and say, ‘Oh, this is my favorite, I like classic better if I’m doing classic.’ When I get home from skate, I say, ‘I like skate way better,’” Nye said. “I love them both.”
The relay races combined the two disciplines, and the first leg skied in the classic style and the second two skiers could skate ski. The Lava Bear girls relay competed in matching gold capes and gold, jangly belly-dancer skirts over their uniforms, which proved to be more aesthetically pleasing than aerodynamic. Munck, who skied the anchor leg, said her cape somehow wrapped in front of her, impeding her arms as she powered up the final hill. Still, she maintained the lead and crossed the line ahead of Summit, raising her ski poles above her head and sliding to embrace McColgan and Colton before sinking to the ground in exhaustion.
“Yes! We won in capes!” shouted a shocked McColgan, who later admitted she and her teammates had not expected to win the relay.
“Guys, we’re basically Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall,” Colton said giddily, referring to the women’s team sprint partners who won a gold medal in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Wednesday, becoming the first Americans to win a nordic event at the Olympics.
McColgan said she has always thought the relay races were the most fun part of important meets like the state championship and junior nationals, and she and her teammates said they are inspired by the fun-loving approach of the women’s national team (aside from her gold medal, Diggins is known for choreographing dance videos with her teammates, while Randall is easily recognized by her pink-streaked hair.)
“Fun is where it’s at,” Munck said. “So that’s where we are.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0305, firstname.lastname@example.org