Grace Staberg from Summit wins Ski Mountaineering World Cup in Andorra

The US contingent at the International Ski Mountaineering Federation World Cup in Andorra, including residents of Summit County Sierra Anderson (far left), Grace Staberg (second from left) and Connor Albin (second from right) pose together for a team photo during the competition.
Sierra Anderson / Daily Special

FRISCO – Thinking back to her solo participation on the International Ski Mountaineering Federation’s World Cup circuit last year, Summit local Sierra Anderson heard many national anthems as the races recognized the top 3 podiums. But a song was obviously missing: “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

“I remember thinking how cool it would be to be here competing and to have that as part of our experience,” Anderson said Wednesday.

With five American ski mountaineers competing, including three from Summit County, Anderson and her fellow Americans had the chance to hear the national anthem on Sunday when Summit High senior Grace Staberg won the Junior Women’s World Cup. in Arinsal, Andorra.

Staberg pulled away from 18-20 year-old competition in Sunday’s 1,300-foot vertical drop, finishing almost a minute ahead of her closest competitor. That runner-up was Staberg and Anderson’s good friend Samantha Bertolina, one of the world’s top young ski mountaineers who spent part of last summer living in Summit County with Staberg.

The day before, Bertolina beat Staberg in the individual World Cup race, where the Summit County local finished second behind her friend skimo international.

Staberg won Saturday’s race in typical Grace fashion, giving her everything from the start. She took the lead after just 30 seconds of racing and held on for the win with no more fuel in the tank.

“Going to the podium ceremony and hearing the national anthem was definitely memorable for me,” said Staberg. “This particular moment stands out. When I look back on this year, there are fond memories of all the events. I feel like I’ve learned so much. It’s such a great experience for me. I think all the races were as important to me as this victory was. I have grown so much as a competitor to everyone.

Anderson also competed in the individual race on Saturday and the vertical race on Sunday. While the results weren’t her strongest, Anderson said the weekend was special because she and Staberg – who lived and trained in a chalet in France during the winter – were joined. for races by young Summit Connor Albin, John Gaston of Aspen and Cameron Smith of Crested Butte.

This weekend in Berchtesgarden, Germany, the American crew will be joined by Rory Kelly from Boulder and Eric Carter. Having a bigger and stronger American contingent in Europe, even if it is still smaller than the scale of European teams, means a lot to Anderson and Staberg.

“It’s exciting to have them here,” Anderson said. “It’s nice to continue to show off together and let it be known that we are here and that we are staying. It’s fun and rewarding to attend World Cups and have that team atmosphere, knowing that you have that person to share it with.

The other thing that made the weekend in Andorra special was that Anderson got to watch Staberg’s start and finish of the vertical race, watching her cross the finish line and s ‘collapse afterwards.

While she also excels in individual runs, Staberg has an affinity for vertical, a run that demands ultimate cardiorespiratory capacity and endurance capacity from runners, as they climb and climb (and climb) uphill.

Several sessions with the Summit Endurance Academy and Team USA head coach Joe Howdyshell, a Breckenridge resident, paid off for Staberg on Saturday and Sunday, leading to what looks likely the first of many skimo triumphs for she.

“The verticals are my favorite race, for the most part,” said Staberg. “It’s just, I don’t know, I guess I’m a little weird. I like to ride. I was really excited to run. I really thought I had a good chance of winning if I could pull it off, but it’s never a done deal. You go there hoping to have a chance.

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