Led by talented girls side, Summit High School Alpine ski team loaded with depth
A year after winning the slalom state championship, the Summit High School girls Alpine ski team is poised to challenge for the top spot in the state.
The Tigers girls have top-end talent, led by 2020 slalom state champion Olyvia Snyder, and depth on the girls team. Speaking from downhill practice at Keystone Resort on Tuesday afternoon, Alpine head coach Karl Barth said the team is “insanely” talented — enough to potentially lead the Tigers Alpine and Nordic girls ski teams to a state championship on home snow at Loveland Ski Area on March 11-12.
“Last year, we were right there in Alpine,” Barth said. “We won the slalom, and were just out of it in the giant slalom. If we compete well, and along with three to four Nordic skiers, we maybe have a shot at something by the end of the year.”
Though the girls team lost several talented seniors, Abby Schierholz is the only member of the group who went to state and isn’t skiing with the Tigers this year. Along with Snyder — who won the slalom state title last year by more than 1.5 seconds — three of the four other girls who finished in the top 15 in that race return: junior Jenna Sheldon (sixth place), senior Camille Thompson (seventh) and junior Paige Petersen (11th).
The Tigers girls also return veteran skiers like Bryton Ferrari, Victoria Uglyar, Sophia Henry and Olivia Westall, who are plenty talented enough to qualify for state. Throw in newcomers in Olyvia Snyder’s younger sister Ella, Cora Jackson and Lucy Brady, and Summit will have plenty of skiers who should rise to the occasion. Leading the way, senior leader Ferrari said Sheldon, Olyvia Snyder and Thompson are skiing “as aggressive as they were last year.”
“Probably even more,” Ferrari said, “which is exciting to see.”
The boys team did lose vocal leader River Mentsch and Sullivan Wheeler, but Barth and junior Ridge Garrett said the addition of several young skiers should help ease the transition. Barth expects a strong season from sophomore Wyatt Huston in his first year racing for the Tigers.
“He’s such a ripper,” Ferrari said about Huston.
Huston will join fellow sophomores Michael Cheek and Gavin Masters, who raced well at state last year.
Then when you consider the return of Tigers veterans Kevin Riddle and Jackson Campbell, Barth said, this team might actually be a little deeper than last year.
“It’s a pretty good young squad there,” Barth said. “They might be a year away, but they’ll definitely do all right.”
Garrett described being able to ski during the pandemic as a blessing, even if the start of the season was delayed for several weeks.
But health precautions will lead to some changes this season, including smaller meet sizes with only two or three teams at most meets, Barth said. The coach also said that with the limited field size of 75 skiers per gender at the Loveland state championships, schools will be allotted entries based on their finish at state last year. For Summit in slalom, for example, that means nine girls and five boys would be able to ski at state.
Whatever happens this season, Barth said he can sense the “sheer joy” the athletes have to practice, nevermind compete. With the ski team adding on hours of in-person socialization for student-athletes each week, Barth said the children benefit from the team’s “social-emotional piece.”
For the ski racers on the team, like Garrett and Ferrari, racing brings a sense of normalcy to their lives upended ever since the state championships concluded at the end of February, including the loss of a rugby season last fall.
“It’s, honestly, really important for me to have something for our senior season,” Ferrari said. “The kids I get to ski with bring such a positive environment to my life. Not being able to have rugby this fall was a bummer, so getting out on the race course and racing with good athletes pumps you up.”
• Jan. 27: Slalom at Copper Mountain Resort, 8:30 a.m.
• Jan. 28: Giant slalom at Keystone Resort, 8:30 a.m.
• Feb. 5: Giant slalom at Keystone, 8:30 a.m.
• Feb. 10: Dual slalom at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, 10 a.m.
• Feb. 18: Slalom at Ski Cooper, 10 a.m.
• March 5: to be determined
• March 11: Giant slalom state championships at Loveland Ski Area, 10 a.m.
• March 12: Slalom state championships at Loveland, 10 a.m.
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