It’s a delicate balance, and one that Sophie De Fries has always been careful never to over-step upon in one direction or another.
With only two slalom runs available to decide a state championship, that balance is always tested. Charge out too aggressively on that first run and its easy to suffer a crash that takes a racer out of contention before the first turn. Playing it too conservatively just to stay upright, however, often results in times that are no threat to the top of the scoreboard.
On Friday in the state slalom championship, Nederland’s De Fries struck that balance perfectly, avoiding disaster on a pair of stellar runs to capture the state championship.
“I felt good through the first run, and I didn’t want to take it too conservatively because then you find yourself too far back,” De Fries said. “I wasn’t completely happy with it, but it put me in good position for the second run. And then that second run just felt great.”
De Fries stood in third after her initial run, and after her second run she had to wait nervously as the two racers ahead of her completed their runs. Both crashed, leaving the junior from Boulder High with the state championship.
“I’m ecstatic and couldn’t be happier,” said De Fries, whose final overall time was 1 minute, 9.87 seconds.
The Nederland girls finished fourth in the slalom team race with 149 points behind state champion Summit (170), Aspen (163), and Battle Mountain (154). Brita Luscher placed ninth for Nederland, finishing in 1:14.35.
The Nederland boys fared even better in the team slalom race, placing second with 157 points behind Battle Mountain’s 173. The Panthers placed three racers within the top 14, an effort paced by a fifth-place finish from Owen Foster (1:03.88).
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State skiing championships
At Keystone Resort
Boys slalom team scores — Battle Mountain 173, Nederland 157, Summit 150, Evergreen 145, Aspen 136, Eagle Valley 131, Middle Park 123, Clear Creek 120, Steamboat Springs 76, Lake County 74, Pine Creek 67, Vail Mountain 43, .
Boys slalom individual results — 1. Quintin Cook, Battle Mountain, 1:00.59; 2. Sands Simonton, Battle Mountain, 1:01.11; 3. Owen Tallmadge, Evergreen, 1:01.86; 4. Cole Ricco, Middle Park, 1:02.35; 5. Owen Foster, Nederland, 1:03.88; 6. Cameron Berget, Summit, 1:04.65; 7. Keenan Zopf, Battle Mountain, 1:04.65; 8. Quin Kuechenmeister, Nederland, 1:05.56.
Other Nederland finishers — 14. Sam Vonmettenheim 1:09.04; 20. Jacob Scheiffler, 1:12.40; 22. Christian Wood, 1:13.35; 28. Cole Skilbred 1:15.05; 29. Bryce Nesmith, 1:15.61; 37. Roland Bailey, 1:18.55.
Girls slalom team scores — Summit 170, Aspen 163, Battle Mountain 154, Nederland 149, Evergreen 139, Middle Park 127, Pine Creek 117, Steamboat Springs 117, Lake County 115.5, Eagle Valley 105.5, Clear Creek 84, Colorado Rocky Mountain 35, Vail Mountain 32.
Girls slalom individual results — 1. Sophie De Fries, Nederland, 1:09.87 2. Eleanor Brown-Wolf, Summit, 1:10.46; 3. Hannah Mass, Aspen, 1:10.97; 4. Abby Davidson, Battle Mountain, 1:11, 67; 5. Rachel Smith, Summit, 1:11.95; 6. Gisele Thompson, Summit, 1:12.57; 7. Dani Moulton, Summit, 1:13.35; 8. Linzhi Douglas, Aspen, 1:14.15.
Other Nederland finishers — 9. Brita Luscher, 1:14.35; 37. Leah Kalil, 1:24.56; 43. Cassidy Donohue, 1:29.80; 53. Emma Gann, 2:01.56.