NEDERLAND -- This time around, Taeler McCrerey walked away with a title.
A year after finishing runner-up in both Nordic events at the state skiing championships, the Summit junior captured the classic crown with a time of 18:25. She actually led Summit's sweep of the podium in the event -- teammates Ruthie Boyd (18:41) and Christa Gutzel (19:27) finished second and third, respectively.
"My goal was to just ski fast, get the team going so we can all do well," McCrerey said afterward. "That's what needed to happen. We needed to get at least a podium."
A constant snow fell all day Thursday on Eldora Mountain Resort, though it was unseasonably warm even if racers had to fight off the occasional gust of wind.
Even still, McCrerey jumped out ahead of the classic field with a fast first lap.
"I think I might have started a little too hard," she said. "I was excited, but I calmed down a bit and really just focused on skiing. I played with the conditions a little bit and adapted to that. Because it's a little tough today: it's warmer, but the wind's blowing."
McCrerey is also looked at as the favorite for Friday's skate event, and with good reason. She recently returned from a trip to Finland, where she competed in the under-18 Scandinavian Cup with the U.S. National Team. That's a squad comprised of the top six Nordic skiers nationally in that age group.
"It was awesome representing USA. It was interesting, it was very fun," McCrerey said. "It was the best in the world for my age group. They're fast, but I definitely know what I need to do to be closer to them."
The experience also helped Thursday.
"It definitely boosts your confidence a bit," McCrerey said. "Then again, it all comes down to the team. I'm proud of the girls. I think we can pull it off. It will be interesting to see, but I hope so."
The podium sweep helped push Summit -- the defending champion on both the girls and the boys side -- into a tie for the girls team lead after the first day of competition. The Tigers and Aspen both have 325 points. Nederland, this year's host, is in third with 303. (Find full results here.)
Battle Mountain's Haley Frischholz won the giant slalom with a combined time of 1:38.47. Summit's Anne Parker was second in 1:39.45.
Summit also heads the boys team standings after the first day. The Tigers have 317 points to second-place Aspen's 315. Battle Mountain is third with 301.
Once again, it was the nordic side that led the way. Summit's Henry Trowbridge won the classic event, finishing in 16:18, and teammate Cameron Bobb was second (16:58). Trowbridge was third last year, while Bobb was fourth.
Battle Mountain's Sands Simonton won the giant slalom by going 1:36.06. Aspen's Luca Woehrle was second in 1:38.15.