Team Summit, Summit Nordic Ski Club join forces to compete at Lake Placid International Children’s Games
Summit Nordic Ski Club
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During a Frisco Town Council meeting last week, Councilman Hunter Mortensen found what might be the best example he’s seen of community here in Summit County.
Moments before the meeting began, there was a contingent of top young Summit County athletes that donned their new “Team Frisco” jackets in front of the council. This group of a dozen alpine, Nordic and freestyle athletes will head to the 2019 International Children’s Winter Games from Jan. 6-11 in Lake Placid, New York. The event is essentially the closest thing to a Winter Olympic-type competition for athletes between the ages of 12 and 15.
“We’ve spent a lot of time in Frisco trying to define community,” Mortensen said at the meeting. “What does community look like? That right there, that right there is community.”
A year after several Summit County athletes starred at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, it’s time to meet Team Frisco.
It’s a group comprised of Team Summit and the Summit Nordic Ski Club’s top resident athletes, as the rule to be a candidate for Team Frisco is that athletes must attend the Summit County School District.
As such, Summit Nordic Ski Club will send four of their top skiers to compete against teams from 33 cities spread across 14 different countries. The Summit Nordic athletes who will be a part of Team Frisco’s group include rising stars Annabelle Pattenden, Henri Nicolas, Nico Konecny and Nina Schamberger.
The Team Summit athletes who will be competing include top youth performers Alex Thisted, Alina Cospolich, Alyssa Moroco, Bodie Heflin, Jadyn Dalrymple, Karis Stang, Stella Buchheister and Walker Robinson.
The International Children’s Games will feature competitions in alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboarding at Whiteface Mountain Ski Area, which hosted events at the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Nordic skiing and ski jumping competitions will take place at Lake Placid’s 1980 ski jumping venue while ice hockey and figure skating competitions will occur at the famous site of the 1980 “Miracle On Ice” — Herb Brooks Arena at the Lake Placid Olympic Center.
For the Team Frisco contingent, Summit Nordic Ski Club coaches Olof and Whitney Hedberg are the only team members to have traveled to Lake Placid before. For the rest of the coaches and athletes, it’ll be a week where they can live out their own slice of Winter Olympics past, present and future.
“And they are actually going to get to watch the Miracle On Ice movie as one of the evening video experiences,” said Team Summit’s director of development Rodney Robinson. “They are bringing in the delegations to watch that.”
Robinson was the one who first had the idea of applying to have Team Frisco compete in the games. It was over a year ago when Robinson found out thanks to people he knew in the ski cross community what exactly the International Children’s Games was. Sporting their jackets that represented Big Bear, California, at the 2016 International Children’s Games in Innbruck, Austria, Robinson inquired about the process.
That led Robinson to connect with Diane McBride, Frisco’s interim town manager and director of recreation. The duo then dove into the invite-only process until, this past summer, Team Frisco was extended an invitation from the games’ organizing personnel in Switzerland.
Robinson then reached out to Whitney to invite Summit Nordic to join the delegation. To the best recollection of both Robinson and Whitney, this is the first time they can remember two Summit County youth sports programs like this joining together to form a new, temporary team to compete in an event at this level.
“Our two local clubs — we all believe in skiing,” Whitney said. “We are all on snow. But we don’t have too many chances to interact as clubs. This gives us a chance to do that — for Summit County to have one team, which is fun for the kids. From our perspective, it gets our kids international racing experience. But the chance to be one community and to represent as one group is a really fun thing, too. And so we were excited to have that happen and really look forward to our kids getting to travel with and stay with these other alpine kids. We know we are doing the same things as them every weekend, just in a different venue, basically.”
To select its eight Team Frisco athletes, Team Summit had interested athletes write an essay describing why they’d be a good representative of Team Frisco. Team Summit also took into account the program’s top results from last season to choose its bunch.
For Summit Nordic, they selected their quartet of athletes by taking the top performers from last season’s points table.
In the end, each program will be sending athletes that coaches from both programs described as ambitious and hardworking.
“If they weren’t dedicated already, they wouldn’t be here,” Olof said. “These kids, they are already doing everything they could be doing.”
When in Lake Placid, some of Team Frisco’s athletes will not only get the chance to compete for their community against the rest of the world’s best. The International Children’s Games also features inter-delegation competitions that pair athletes from one city or country with several different athletes from other places.
To the Hedbergs and the rest of Team Frisco, that may prove to be the neatest part about this entire experience. In and around the “Olympic Village” that Lake Placid will set up on its lakefront Main Street, the hundreds of young athletes from all across the globe will get the chance to mingle, trading Olympic-like pins and candy.
Then they will get the chance to compete together in a one-of-a-kind event.
“It’s a way to kind of learn about each other,” Whitney said. “To find out what it’s like to be a kid in China or Russia, or elsewhere in the United States for that matter, I think that’s pretty cool.”
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