Sugar Bowl skiers capture Nordic state championships | SierraSun.com

Sugar Bowl skiers capture Nordic state championships

Sugar Bowl Academy skiers shined at the California Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation (CNISSF) Nordic Championships on Friday, Feb. 16, at Auburn Ski Club.

Junior Haydn Halvorsen skied to his third consecutive state championship, outpacing the field of 23 racers to finish the roughly 6-kilometer race with a time of 19 minutes, 26.00 seconds; while on the girls' side Sugar Bowl junior Kianna Mullings won her first state championship, finishing with a time of 24:20.40.

"I believed I could do I it," said Halvorsen after the race. "I came out here against some pretty good competition, and just skied my race and it went as planned. I'm super stoked."

While the area has suffered through a dry winter, conditions were nearly perfect during a warm morning at Auburn Ski Club for the state championships.

"It's been kind of a bad year of skiing, and then today was perfect corduroy — super fast, super fun," Halvorsen said. "I'm stoked with that."

The skiers raced three laps on the course, and transitioned from classic technique to skate technique, something Halvorsen said was unusual for a state championship.

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"It was fun and interesting, but it's definitely harder to pull off," he said. "The key was pacing, because this is a longer race for high school than normal. So I just kept it calm on the first two laps and saved it up so I could go hard on the last one."

North Tahoe's JC Schoonmaker finished 21.60 seconds behind Halvorsen for second place. Sugar Bowl's Nate Cutler was next with a time of 21:03.20, followed by North Tahoe skiers Nikolas Burkhart (21:19.20) and Cooper Anderson (21:21.60). Truckee's Steffen Cuneo led the Wolverines with a time of 21:59.30 for a sixth-place finish.

In girls' racing, Mullings topped the regular season points champion, North Tahoe's Lily Murnane, by 45.90 seconds.

"I've been having a tougher season. It was super fun to come out here and feel good today in the last race of the season," Mullings said. "I'm excited that I pushed myself harder than most days and I felt really strong technique-wise. My mentality going into the race was a lot stronger today."

Mullings was also a second-place finisher at last year's state championships.

"Kianna has had some really strong intensity sessions in training the last few weeks," said Sugar Bowl Academy Head Coach Martin Benes. "It felt like it was just a matter of time before she put it together on race day."

Mullings said she'd only skied in a race once before with a transition between classic and skate technique, and like Halvorsen, said pacing was key to capturing the state title.

"Switching skis immediately, I haven't really done that many times before," she said. "I tried to take it really relaxed on the first lap with the classic and ski a little bit bigger and open and more powerful instead of with a quicker tempo. When I got into the skate skis, you can apply a little bit more power with your legs, and that's what I did."

North Tahoe's Kili Lehmkuhl was third with a time of 25:07.90, followed by teammate Camille Syben with a time of 25:37.80. Sugar Bowl's Eleanore Hamilton rounded out the top five skiers with a time of 25:44.50. Abby Baier led Truckee with a time of 26:36.30 for a seventh-place finish.

"It was a really good day," Benes said. "It was cool to see what we've seen in training on the race course today."

Staff Writer Justin Scacco can be reached at 530-550-2643 or via email at jscacco@sierrasun.com.