2002 GSHS grad Holtum sails to silver at Worlds | PostIndependent.com

2002 GSHS grad Holtum sails to silver at Worlds

G. Sean Kelly
Post Independent Sports Editor

The Roaring Fork Valley isn’t exactly a hotbed of sailing talent, but there is at least one native who has burst onto the international scene.

Ashley Holtum, a 2002 graduate of Glenwood Springs High School, was recently part of the silver medal team at the women’s Yngling World Championships in Mondsee, Austria.

Holtum is a relative newcomer to the sport, but the blank slate has obviously served her well so far in her sailing career as a member of New Zealand’s Team Inspiration.

“I thought she was joking when she made the offer,” Holtum said in a e-mail release earlier this summer of Team Inspiration skipper Sharon Ferris’ efforts to recruit her. “Sharon has a wealth of very talented sailors available to her. I’m a novice by comparison. But she explained to me, and my skeptical parents, that it’s easier to train someone from the ground up than to try to break old habits. It’s been a tremendous amount of work, but a simply amazing experience.”

When naming Holtum to the team, Ferris described the Rocky Mountain native as: “One of the best combinations of pure world-class sailing talent, strong character and levelheaded determination that I’ve ever come across.”

Ynglings are fast three-person yachts. Holtum serves as the bowman, with Ferris and Raynor Smeal filling out the Team Inspiration crew.

“It’s certainly the wettest job on the boat, but I also get some of the best views,” Holtum said of her job as bowman.

Team Inspiration held the lead at the World Championships midway through the 10-race event, but couldn’t hold off the United States squad of Sally Barkow, Carrie Howe and Debbie Capozzi down the stretch. In the final race, the U.S. team held a nine-point advantage over New Zealand (Team Inspiration). The Russian team trailed New Zealand by just two points. The three teams finished 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively, to keep the top three unchanged on the final leaderboard.

The Team Inspiration trio is currently ranked sixth in the world in women’s Yngling, but the rankings will be updated Wednesday to include the World Championships. So, New Zealand should see a significant bump in the rankings.

And, while it’s still some time away, a high ranking is a key element in qualification for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing ” the ultimate goal for Team Inspiration.

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