Ski Club Spotlight: Team Summit’s Gisele Thompson and Trent Pennington, Summit Nordic’s Peter Haynes and Nina Schamberger |

Ski Club Spotlight: Team Summit’s Gisele Thompson and Trent Pennington, Summit Nordic’s Peter Haynes and Nina Schamberger

Interviewed by Phil Lindeman

Editor’s note: This is Part One of a three-part series featuring local ski club athletes. Read on for Part Two with Loveland Ski Club and Team Summit, and Part Three with snowboarders and freeskiers.

Feel that tinge in the air? It’s winter, and yes, it has finally arrived.

But that hardly means ski season is just now beginning at Summit County’s four local ski clubs. Almost every skier and snowboarder has been on the snow for two or three weeks of pre-season training, which puts local Nordic, alpine and freestyle athletes in prime position to top podiums this holiday and earn invites to national championships this spring.

Before the first slate of races this week — yes, alpine skiers slide into the gates as early as Thanksgiving weekend, followed by freestyle skiers and riders for the first U.S. Revolution Tour stop at Copper Mountain from Dec. 5-10 — the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with coaches from Team Summit Colorado, Team Breckenridge Sports Club, Loveland Ski Club and Summit Nordic Ski Club to highlight some of the best young talent in the county. We kick things off with four Nordic and alpine all-stars from SNSC and Team Summit.

Nina Schamberger | Summit Nordic Ski Club

Call it a first year to remember. Last season, for Nina Schamberger’s debut competition season with Summit Nordic Ski Club, the 10-year-old made the podium at every U-12 race and ended with a win at the Rocky Mountain Nordic skate race in Minturn. Now 11 years old, the sixth grader at Summit Middle School is still racing U-12 — and expected to do just as well.

“I will be surprised if anyone is even close to her in her age group this year,” SNSC head coach Olof Hedberg said. High hopes for a young, promising Nordic skier — but nothing that young Nina can’t handle.

My first skiing memory: Sadly, I don’t remember my first time skiing because I was 2 years old. I skied with the Leadville Bill Koch program.

My first competition memory: I competed for the first time when I was 9. I had only skate skied two times and wasn’t used to them yet, so I face-planted right before the finish line.

Ski club highlight: The RMN skate race in Minturn last year. I’d been chasing other racers all season but had a breakthrough day. I loved the hilly course and was able to compete well with the girls and boys.

My biggest goal for the season: To become as fast at time trials, or when I’m racing alone, as I am at mass starts. I go a lot faster when other skiers are around me because I don’t want to get passed, so I want to get better at pushing myself when I’m not around other people.

Favorite place to train: Frisco Nordic Center because it is both hilly and flat, but I also love the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center. Their Lung Burn trail is really fun, and they have the best buffalo chili ever!

When I’m not competing…: I enjoy skiing just about anywhere hilly. The Buzzsaw trail at the Frisco Nordic Center is probably my favorite place to ski.

My on-snow heroes: Therese Johaug and Charlotte Kahla.

Favorite off-snow sport: Trail running.

Pre-race meal: Oatmeal and eggs.

Pump-up music: The truth is, I usually get more excited in silence because I can focus and that makes me ready.

Tuning secret: My coaches and my dad wax my skis!

My pre-run ritual: Often, when I am pre-skiing a course with my team, I either go in the front or the back, but never in the middle. I don’t really know why. I just do it.

Peter Haynes | Summit Nordic Ski Club

Peter Haynes is hoping for a breakthrough this year, and, if he does just one place better than last year, it’ll happen. In 2015-16, the 15-year-old sophomore at Summit High School was one point away from qualifying for Nordic Junior Nationals. He ended the season ranked 10th overall in Colorado, making him the highest-placed classic competitor at the high school state finals last March — as a freshman.

This season, Haynes is back in the U-16 division with a full summer of training under his belt. Bring it on, Junior Nationals.

My first skiing memory: Back in 5th grade. I don´t remember very much of it, but I do remember it was at Gold Run Nordic. I knew I was going to love it as soon as I started skiing.

My first competition memory: In 6th grade in an RMN race. It was a very fine experience, obviously, since I had just started skiing. I wasn’t very good and didn’t do well, but I loved the experience.

Ski club highlight: Last season. I managed to make top-5 in one of the last races of the season as first-year U-16. I was excited to be in the running for Junior Nationals and was only one point off getting to compete there.

My biggest goal for the season: By far, my biggest goal this season is to go to Junior Nationals. I was only one point off last season and now I’m in my second year of my age division.

Favorite place to train: Gold Run Nordic in Breckenridge.

When I’m not competing…: When I’m not training or competing and I feel like skiing, I generally go to Gold Run Nordic. My favorite trail is Pegasus.

My on-snow hero: Noah Hoffman. He’s a local (Aspen) American. He’s had some top-30 finishes, but he has to work hard every day to compete with the U.S. team.

Favorite off-snow sport: Soccer.

Pre-race meal: Pasta and a salad, plus a little beet juice.

Pump-up music: Eminem, “Till I Collapse,” is my pump-up song.

Tuning secret: The night before every race I help prep my skies with the right wax for the race conditions.

My pre-run ritual: I always say a little prayer on the start line.

Gisele Thompson | Team Summit alpine

At 16 years old, Gisele Thompson is ready for the big leagues. This season, the alpine skier with Team Summit enters the U-19 division after 14 years on skis and three years with the club. A new division comes with new perks: she’s now eligible for FIS World Cup points and trips to NorAm races. She might be younger than the rest, but she’s been here before: As a U-14 skier, she cracked the top-15 at the Eastern Division Championships to earn an entry to the CanAms. This year, her sights are set on the U-19 National Championships.

My first skiing memory: When I was 2-and-a-half years old, so I do not remember my first time on skis. I first skied down the walkway at my house when I lived in New Jersey.

My first competition memory: At a mountain in Pennsylvania when I was 5 years old. The race was only for the younger athletes and one of the requirements was that we had to decorate our bibs. I stapled Lifesavers to my bib and had a really great first race experience.

Ski club highlight: When I was a U-14 racing at Eastern Championships at Sunday River (in Maine). At the race I remember being extremely intimidated by all of the girls racing out of academies in the North, so I was very worried I would not place well. After my first slalom run I came down and checked the time sheet and saw I had placed twelfth. I remember being so excited and shocked after the slalom race because I had earned myself a place at CanAms, which was a goal I thought I never would accomplish at the time.

My biggest goal for the season: To make U-19 Nationals.

Favorite place to train: Copper, because there is the (U.S. Ski Team) Speed Center.

When I’m not competing…: Silverton. For the past two years, some athletes and coaches take a trip out for a weekend of guided skiing, which is always a nice break from the gates.

My on-snow hero: Lara Gut, who is a Swiss skier. Gut is my favorite because she is very small compared to other athletes on the World Cup and yet she still won the overall globe last season.

Favorite off-snow sport: I really enjoy playing soccer, especially with the high school team.

Pre-race meal: A fruit smoothie for breakfast because it will give me energy for the long day.

Tuning secret: I tune and wax my skis as usual, but I will wax with high-fluoro wax, and before my runs my coaches will add an overlay to make sure the skis are extra fast.

My pre-run ritual: I do some dynamic stretching to make sure my legs are loose before the run.

Trent Pennington | Team Summit alpine

Trent Pennington has come a long way from the beach. As a U-14 racer, the Florida native was lining up in the gates at Crested Butte for a Junior Nationals qualifier. He needed a top-15 finish in the slalom to earn enough points — and ended in 12th. Now 14 years old, the Team Summit tech specialist admits his qualifying run wasn’t his best, but it still got the job done and set him up perfectly for U-16 competition this season. He knows what it takes to beat bigger, faster skiers. It’s just a matter of making it happen for a spot at the U-16 National Championships.

My first skiing memory: I was in Vermont for a fun ski trip from Florida. The resort was called Smuggler’s Notch. I remember bits and pieces of the trip, but not very much. One of my memories was that I was instantly hooked!

My first competition memory: In Copper for a Summit Cup: giant slalom in the morning and stubbies (slalom) in the afternoon. I remember it being very intimidating.

Ski club highlight: My best race or most memorable race was in Crested Butte, which was the qualifier for Junior Championships. I was a first-year U-14 and I didn’t have the results to qualify for the championship. So, it was the last day, which was slalom, and I charged down probably seven gates before leaning in and crashing. To me, I thought this woke me up, because I absolutely sent it the rest of the course. To my surprise, while running third to last, I ended out in 12th. This meant that I had made it to the Junior Championships. This wasn’t my best finish, but it was definitely one to remember.

My biggest goal for the season: Qualify for the U-16 National Championship. Another goal is to get my points to a good place — sub-100 would be my goal range.

Favorite place to train: Rosie’s right under Super Bee at Copper. It’s nice and steep and very fun to shred on.

When I’m not competing…: Either Breckenridge or Copper. Both have great terrain and steep bowls with fun cliffs.

My on-snow hero: Steven Nyman, for sure. He is a beast and it’s fun to watch him go fast.

Favorite off-snow sport: Golf and biking. Biking because it is a good workout and it makes your legs stronger for skiing, and golf kind of just for fun.

Pre-race meal: Pasta. I like to get some carbs before a race so I am well energized for the next day.

Pump-up music: Khamsin. He’s a European artist who makes a lot of techno/EDM music.

Tuning secret: It depends on the slope. If it is a flat hill, I will put some high-flouro in my skis, which is a faster type of wax that is good for speed.

My pre-run ritual: I usually like to socialize with people, which some people find surprising. But, I like to just stay loose, stretch and not be super-intense.

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