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Severson skis to State, but just barely

Whether it’s putting her ski equipment on backwards or showing up at the incorrect venue, the lighthearted Sarah Severson seems to make ski meets interesting.

That was the scene at Tuesday’s Section 7 Alpine ski meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, when the Esko senior skied to her third state meet with her combined classic and freestyle time of 1 minute, 22.89 seconds — but just barely made qualification.

To qualify for State a skier must finish in the top 10 in addition to the members of the section’s winning team. That said, Severson’s 10th-place finish got her in — as 15 advanced — yet, not without fright during post-race awards.

Lumberjacks Coach Ryan Zimny sent a text following the race saying Severson “squeezed in” to next Wednesday’s state meet, again at Giants Ridge, noting his CEC varsity downhill skier since seventh grade had her share of difficulty Tuesday.

“She had a bobble on her first run and did the same thing on her second,” Zimny of Severson’s results on the chilly sunny day. “She had two slower-than-normal runs for her.”

Severson agreed, explaining that nerves got to her in the all-or-nothing race. Although she didn’t post her best times Tuesday, she said that’s how skiing is, so dependent on one single day.

“It’s so emotional,” Severson said of sections. “You could be one of the top skiers all season and if you fall, you don’t go to State. It’s all completely controlled by your emotions.”

Severson explained she tried to “get out of her head” Tuesday, but despite earning a medal, said she “did not do well” in her estimation. Hoping to place in the top five, she was well off pace.

Still, it wasn’t as bad as a year prior when Severson fell at sections and failed to advance, after making previous state trips as a freshman skier in 2012 and sophomore in 2013.

While Severson was the only Lumberjack to move forward to next week, CEC claimed 11th with their six-skier girls team Tuesday. The boys, which lost Esko’s Ross Erickson to a broken leg last week, only had two skiers Tuesday and not enough for a team. Carlton’s Mark Matlack and Esko’s Tom Heren raced, and Heren placed 35th in 1:19.60.

Matlack, meanwhile, was proud for Severson to prevail.

“It’s good to see her go,” he said. “It’s always nice to see someone who works so hard to compete at the highest level.”

For Severson, it’s now her final race of a local career lasting over half a decade. She’ll ski at Northern Michigan next year.

“I was the only girl in seventh grade with a letterman’s jacket,” she said. “I wish others knew how fun this all was.”

“She’s been around a lot of gates over the years,” Zimny said of his his stalwart. “So it’s a nice way for her to go out.”

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