Steenburn takes gold in snowy sprint

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Leader of the pack: Amara Steenburn, a student at Albany Academy for Girls, comes down the home stretch during the 400-meter snowshoe race in Paul Smith’s last Sunday for the 34th annual Empire State Winter Games. Steenburn won the race with a time of 1:46.66, and won another Gold medal in the 100-meter with a time of 19.79.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Winded: Amara Steenburn won two Gold medals for snowshoeing; she was fast. Here, she catches her breath after the 100-meter race.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Neck and neck are Ben Balet, left, and Michael Bucholtz of Ballston Spa during the 100-meter snowshoe race on Sunday. Bucholtz beat Balet by half-a-second.

PAUL SMITHS — Returning to the snow-covered soccer field prepared for snowshoers, 17-year-old Amara Steenburn added another two medals to her sprinting legacy.

She has won Gold at most of her snowshoe sprints at the Empire State Winter Games in the past five years, a standard set by her sister, Samantha. Last weekend, the Albany Academy for Girls senior did it again.

“In previous years, I’ve gotten gold medals in the 400 and 100, but I didn’t want to necessarily confirm that I was going to win this,” Steenburn said as her father, Gary, prepared hand warmers for her after she raced.

The slender sprinter was clearly out ahead in both heats for the 15 to 19 age category. She ran 100 meters in 19 minutes and 79 seconds. Nicole Landry finished with 20 minutes and 92 seconds, and Chloe Mattilio and Natalie Palko both had times of 21 minutes and 93 seconds.

In the 400-meter race, Steenburn pulled far ahead at the 1:46.66 mark. Behind her was Chloe Mattilio with 1:55.06, and then Lauren Brieant at 2:04.44.

Steenburn left a wake of snow behind her, the flakes kicked up by her large aluminum snowshoes and sucked into the whirling wind behind her.

“I thought it was a lot more groomed this year,” Steenburn said of the track. The blonde runner has been attending to her quick leg muscles in track practice over her years.

She signed a letter of intent to run for the track team at the University of Hartford, where she plans to study marketing.

From Claverack in Columbia County, Steenburn spends nearly all of her weekdays busy at school. She recently added long jump to her indoor track training, in addition to 300- and 55-meter races.

“Just something for fun that I wanted to do,” Steenburn said of her decision to add long jumping.

She had a similar nonchalance about her snowshoeing exploits. Steenburn said her sprinting technique, regardless of what’s on or under her feet, is the same.

“I don’t really tell the difference,” Steenburn said of sprinting in snow shoes, “because it’s just natural.”

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