Skiers at States
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Brisk air and a lowering sun enveloped a hundred nervous girls who waited as the clock counted down for the start. The Aspen team, made up of only four skiers, was hard to pick out through the sea of competitors; Vail, Summit, Steamboat, Battle Mountain, and more.
After the girl’s ski team won States last year on Aspen’s home course, and the boy’s ski team got second overall, you would think the Nordic team would have gotten many recruits. But, it was quite the opposite. Both the girl’s and boy’s Nordic team actually lost some of its best participants, making the already small team even tinier.
The bare minimum for scoring is three skiers, which Aspen barely met.
During the opening ceremonies on Feb. 23, Aspen’s small team paraded the banner around the start loop, almost getting trampled by Battle Mountain’s team of more than 50 kids. Senior Adair Patillo hobbled with her hurt foot, while senior Jack Sweeney coughed from a lingering illnesses. Nordic coaches Ben Dodge and Travis Moore, this journalist’s father, were a little disappointed with the overall lack of participants, but decided States was a success.
“To win a state championship it takes both teams, Nordic and Alpine, to be strong and deep in numbers. I’m sure it will happen again, maybe even next year. There were many individual victories, so we should still be proud,” coach Moore said.
Even though the Nordic team was short on numbers and many were wounded, the spirit was there, and there were some great results achieved. Both Nordic and Alpine racers alike supported and cheered each other on throughout the races.
Everyone finished smiling, no matter the result. Junior Ricky Wojcik said that States is really the only time you feel this way, where the Nordic and Alpine teams mix.
“It’s really cool to be able to support alpine while they race and have them watch us race to achieve a common goal,” Wojcik said. “Nordic is a really small team and it’s exciting to become part of a bigger team at states.”
The Alpine team, like Wojcik says, has a much larger team of 19, and also had some impressive finishes. They skied on one of the hardest courses in Colorado, Howelsen Hill, which is also adjacent to the nordic trails. Junior Mariel Gorsuch won the giant slalom race on Thursday and said she definitely felt the team spirit during the two-day-event.
“We were constantly cheering for each other, carrying people’s jackets down, and even being start coach for our athletes when we didn’t have one,” Gorsuch said.
She, like many of her teammates, had never been to a Nordic race before, and thought it was exciting to run to different parts of the course to see us ski.
“My favorite part of states was all the team dinners we had because we all got to know each other better,” Gorsuch said.
The Nordic and Alpine team sat together and bonded after a long day of racing.
Despite, both the boy’s and girl’s ski teams ended up third, a disappointment for some compared to past wins, the teams said they tried their very best and had a blast doing so.
*This writer is also a member of the Aspen Nordic Team.