Toby Scarpella had a strong lead after one run in his first chance to ski for a high school state championship for Durango High School. His lead only grew by the time he completed his second run, but he had a long wait in the hot seat with roughly 100 more skiers still yet to complete their second run.
When the field of 104 boys had completed the final giant slalom run of the opening day of the Colorado High School Activities Association State Skiing Championships at Beaver Creek, Scarpella remained at the top of the results sheet with a combined two-run time of 2 minutes, 10.97 seconds. The DHS freshman stormed down the slope in 1:06.47 in his first run to hold a lead of 0.43 seconds ahead of Vail Mountain sophomore Cole Pattison. Scarpella’s second run could not be equaled, as he finished in 1:04.50 to grow his lead to more than a second ahead of Pattison, who finished second in 2:12.07.
Third place went to Aspen junior Charlie Olsen, who Scarpella edged by nearly three seconds.
Scarpella’s win wasn’t completely unexpected. He’s been a force in junior skiing for a long time. Last season, he finished second in giant slalom at the Rocky Central Under-16 Junior Championships at Winter Park and added a top-10 result in super-G at those regional championships.
Scarpella and his younger brother, Finn, have split time between Vail and Durango for several years so he could train at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. This year, his family moved back to Durango full time with Scarpella set to enter high school.
Scarpella, son of Alison and Brian Scarpella, is also a Durango DEVO mountain bike athlete and competes in cross-country mountain biking in the summer.
It was only in 2017 that Durango High brought back skiing as a varsity school sport, and Scarpella is the Demons’ first state champion since the program was reinstated. In 2019, DHS hosted the state championships at Purgatory Resort, Chapman Hill and the Durango Nordic Center. With high school skiing back in the spotlight in Durango after an incredible state championship event, the Demons had 29 skiers come out for the alpine team.
Also for the Demons Thursday was a 12th-place finish from junior Harry LeSage, as he finished in 2:17.20. He improved by nearly two seconds from his first to second run. Barron Bronson, a freshman, placed 42nd in 2:25.50. Senior Leland Heinicke placed 48th in 2:27.87. Sophomore Levi Tichi was 57th in 2:30.91, and junior Aiden Simpson was 59th in 2:31.40. Miles Bronson, a senior, rounded out the team in 76th in 2:35.05.
There were 104 boys on the start list, and 95 completed two runs.
The girls giant slalom was won by Aspen freshman Samantha Edelman in 2:14.56. She beat Battle Mountain senior Berit Frischolz, who finished in 2:14.97. Evergreen senior Jenna Blatchford was third in 2:16.40.
Durango had three girls compete. Junior Zoe Keisel placed 73rd in 2:36.13. Freshman Ava McClellan was 91st in 2:41.61. Senior Skylar Thorpe did not finish in the 100-girl field.
The Durango High School boys skiing team has nine state championships in school history, tied for second-most along with Aspen. Summit has won 18 state titles. But Durango’s last state title for boys skiing came in 1976. The Durango girls skiing team has one state title, and that also came in 1976.
The alpine state championships will conclude Friday afternoon, as qualified athletes will compete in slalom.
DHS head coach Leah LeSage could not be reached for comment.