Spenst, Hartman lead young alpine team | SummitDaily.com

Spenst, Hartman lead young alpine team

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkSummit High junior Taggert Spenst rounds a gate last year at Copper Mountain. The Tigers alpine team will be looking to help add to Summit's 30 state championships.

FARMER’S KORNER – When most Summit High School athletes talk about Colorado’s highest high school competition, they refer to it as “state.”When the Tigers alpine skiers bring it up, it’s “states” – plural.This comes as no surprise. Last year’s two state championships (boys and girls) were the 29th and 30th in school history. Along with the school’s Nordic athletes, the alpiners are used to being the best. This year, with both of the top alpine racers – juniors Taggert Spenst and Katie Hartman – returning, and a host of young talent to provide depth, there’s no reason to suspect the season will end with anything but banners No. 31 and 32.”That’s the plan,” said Hartman, the reigning state champion in slalom and runner-up in giant slalom.

If it happens it will take place on home snow. Keystone’s steep and blinding-fast Go Devil race course is the venue for this year’s alpine championships. It’s the first time since Copper Mountain hosted the state races in 1995 that they’ve been held in Summit. Although that could give the Tigers an advantage come February, even Santa knows it won’t be the deciding factor. No, that distinction falls to their second-to-none talent on two boards.Spenst took third in slalom and fourth in GS last year, his second consecutive dual all-state season. He’ll be joined at the top on the boys side by another returning all-state skier, senior Josh Stuhr.It’s a similar two-headed attack at the top for the Tiger girls. Along with Hartman, senior Shelly Miller returns after earning all-state honors last season to give third-year head coach Tory Hauser two proven, reliable leading ladies.Still, Hauser is the first to say that this winter’s squad won’t have the same scoring potential from seeds 1 through 6 that it did last year. (Three skiers score points among those top six.)”We’re nowhere near as talented at the top as we were last year,” said Hauser, a world championship-level telemark skier who has won three state titles in his two years at the helm of the SHS alpine squad.

In addition, Hauser has to worry about things no other Summit coaches do. For instance, when he talks about the potential of Hartman and Spenst, he’s cautious to point out that everything could change if one of them gets called up to the U.S. Ski Team’s development squad, or has to ski more NorAm races than expected.”That’s why it would be nice to be a little deeper, even if it’s young depth,” Hauser said.It looks like depth won’t be a problem, based on sheer numbers. Thirty-six skiers signed up for the alpine team this year, nearly twice as many as last year. Hauser won’t know exactly what he has in that group until the first race, a GS at Vail Dec. 17, but he’s optimistic.In fact, he thinks he could have as many as 20 skiers qualify for state(s) – a remarkable number considering most schools are happy if they get six or eight.Senior Brendon Morrison, who has fought a number of injuries in his career, could be one of the boys seeds, as well as sophomores Tanner Bardin – who had a good freshman season – and Fletcher McDonald.For the girls, Jenna Sheely returns after qualifying for state last year, but other than that, it will likely be unproven freshmen and sophomores called upon to produce.

If they do, they’ll find themselves on the year’s biggest stage in front of home fans, a rare opportunity in high school skiing.”Ski racing’s not on a big public level in Summit County,” said Spenst. “But when you say states are at home, kids get all jazzed up to ski in front of their friends. I think that’s going to be the biggest thing that’s going to help us stay excited all season.”I think Tory’s going to use that as motivation every day this year.”The state championships are scheduled for Feb. 18-19.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.

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