Panthers Skate to Continued Success in Season
The Lake County High School ski team returned to action this past weekend at Maloit Park in Minturn, Colo. They competed in an individual start skate five kilometer skate race on a cold, but partly sunny, winter morning.
The course took the skiers twice around a 2.5 kilometer loop. The first part of the loop weaved in and out of the starting area and was primarily flat. The second part sent skiers up, down, and around some hairpin turns, challenging their ability to ski fast through multiple transitions.
“This course is going to be fun!” commented Zayden Tufte after the warm up.
The girls continued their stellar season with an excellent showing in 3rd place. Ariel Benney led the team with a 7th place finish, Harper Powell was right behind in 9th, and Whitney White was next through in 12th. Molly Lenhard charged through the middle of the pack to place 18th, and Jackie Williams was 21st. Abby Holm charged to her best finish of the season in 47th. Hannah Holm and Abby Ceglowski broke 30 minutes for the 5 km course to place 62nd and 63rd.
The boys had their best showing of the season by placing 4th as a team. Brandon Hanson used a strong 2nd half of the race to place 9th. Joe Koch was close behind in 13th, and Zayden Tufte had his best finish of the season to place 26th. A duo of freshman were the next Panthers, with Conner Lenhard and Sam Frykholm notching 41st and 42nd respectively. Conner and Sam just squeaked under the state qualifying line.
Jan Birk fought through a few spills on the downhills to place 56th, and Cheyenne Mendoza was right with him in 60th. A few second behind was Matt Koch in 62nd. Matthew Seibel skied a steady pace to place 73rd in his first race of the season. Zach Coffin was 81st and Jarrett Rongstad was 82nd. Andrew Gardner was 88th.
“Another good day for our skiers,” commented assistant coach Andrew Coffin. “It was great to see Conner and Sam qualify. It shows that every second counts in these races, and you really have to stay focused even when skiing by yourself in these individual start races.”
The Panthers will return to Maloit Park next weekend for a same-day pursuit, where they will compete in both a classic and a skate race in the same day. Congratulations and GO PANTHERS!
Backcountry Avalanche Conditions Still Strong
Over the weekend, a group of skiers remotely triggered a small avalanche on a southeast facing, wind-drifted, near treeline, slope on Mt. Elbert, reported the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). All of the skiers made it out safely and no word yet if local rescue crews were dispatched to assist.
Meanwhile on the opposite side of the county, conditions remain consist with avalanche danger. Over the weekend, Leadville Today obtained a photo from Leadville Winter trails groomer Bob Hartzell, demonstrating a snow slide along the Mosquito Pass Range to the east of Leadville. No official word if this slide were triggered by humans on skis or snowmobiles but the ever-changing backcountry conditions are coming with a strong warning from Lake County Sheriff Rod Fenske who made the following comment in last week’s Emergency Council Services meeting.
“While I can’t tell people NOT to go, we are encouraging them to check in with dispatch and give us an idea of how many are in their group and where they’re going. That way when we get that phone call, we’ll know how many bodies to carry out,” stated Fenske, Lake County’s top law enforcement officer. The number to Lake County Emergency Dispatch Center is 719-486-1249.
In the meantime, here’s the additional report from CAIC: Be skeptical of steep slopes with hard, cohesive drifts. Steer clear of these drifts today and give them a bit more time to bond. On some slopes these stiff slabs are sitting on top of persistent weak layers that formed before the last storm, it will take longer for slabs on these slopes to become non-reactive. You could trigger an avalanche today in a fresh wind-drift, or on a more sheltered slope that has weak layers hiding underneath the last storm’s snow. Winds over the last several days have drifted a substantial amount of snow onto leeward slopes at higher elevations.
Even on more sheltered near and below treeline slope there is the possibility of triggering an avalanche that breaks 1 to 2 feet deep on surface hoar buried by the recent snow. Quickly dig down and check for weak snow at the interface before committing to a steep slope. With increasingly warm temperatures today, you may also be able to trigger a small, Loose Wet avalanche on a sunny slope this afternoon. If the snow surface gets wet and sticky, be mindful in steep terrain where getting knocked off your feet would have serious consequences.