Early qualifying has SHS Nordic skiers primed for state
FRISCO – If the Summit High School Nordic team has learned anything this season, it’s to stay relaxed in its races. This lesson came naturally when the majority of the team qualified for state competition in its first couple of meets and hasn’t had to worry about it since.
And, now that the Tigers take to the snow at 4 p.m. Friday in Edwards for its state classic meet and again at 4 p.m. Saturday for the state skate at the Vail Golf Course, they’re still not worrying. Both the boys and girls teams took second Saturday at their races in Carbondale, and while the teams have steadily finished first almost all season, coach Marty Gervais said the calm demeanor his skiers have had going into each race isn’t something he wants to alter for state competition.
“This is one that really counts, and they’re excited about it,” Gervais said of the upcoming races. “They’re pretty confident. Pretty much, everyone has met their (state) qualifying time at every single meet, so just making it there hasn’t been a concern. Team-wise, we have a chance on the Nordic end of things. We’d like to take care of business.”
In order to land the state title, every high school’s alpine team and Nordic team must win its races. Last year, the Nordic boys and the alpine girls won, but all the pieces must be there, even though the Summit alpine and Nordic teams have little to do with each other and don’t share any of the same athletes.
“It’s almost like putting the basketball and volleyball teams together,” Gervais pointed out. “Way back, a lot of kids did both (alpine and Nordic), and that’s where it comes from. They do it in college, too. Now that we’re more specialized, there’s still the overall ski trophy. We have high hopes we’ll do our part.”
In addition to aiming for a state title, most of the SHS Nordic team is also thinking about nationals. Although the fields are deeper in national races than they are at state, the Summit skiers say they value both the same.
“We’re focusing on state, not just nationals,” said SHS junior Pete Richmond, whose highlights this season include a third place in Vail on virtually the same course as the one on which Saturday’s state race will run.
“There are a lot of kids in high school now that are skiing good. We haven’t won state for about four years in alpine and Nordic. I think if we do everything we know we can do, we can focus just as much on state as we do on nationals. We still want to have a relaxed attitude, but we want to be aggressive out there. We could have won all our races this season if we wanted to.”
Summit’s Josh Dayton and Meredith Gilliland both have won high school races this season and will be two of the favorites going into this weekend’s races, along with Richmond and Kyle Ahern. Throughout the season, all members of the SHS Nordic team have finished relatively close together (top 20) and have thus outscored teams with individual ringers like Aspen and Steamboat Springs, which Summit regards as its two strongest competitors.
“The (SHS) team has a lot of depth to it,” Richmond said. “We have three freshmen (boys) on the team who are pretty good. If one of us happens to break a ski or get sick, we have someone behind us to back us up.”
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