State Ski Preview: Boys hope depth beats Aspen " again
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
FARMER’S KORNER ” A year ago, Summit High School’s boys had virtually conceded the state ski title to Aspen. As devoid of depth as the Pitkin County boys were, their top kids had seemingly done enough to take the hardware home to Aspen, leaving Summit’s Tigers to settle for second.
Then one of the Skiers’ top alpine racers lost his train of thought at the bottom of the slalom course, missing a gate. In that instant, Summit’s deeper squad suddenly won the state championship ” which, along with the title won easily by the girls, helped cement the school’s second sweep in three years. It was the 33rd state title overall for the Tigers, a remarkable number that no other school comes close to.
This year’s state meet, which kicks off today in Vail, figures to be just as close between Aspen’s and Summit’s boys. And again, you can expect the Tigers’ depth to battle the Skiers’ talent at the top.
Summit qualified and will enter 18 boys in the state alpine races ” six more than any other team. It’s a number that includes at least three athletes who could win an individual crown.
On the Nordic side, the nine Tigers in the field are a longer shot to produce an individual state title, but they’re just as deep as their alpine counterparts. It’d be no surprise to see as many as four or five SHS athletes in the top 10.
With all the similarities between this year and last ” and, really, the two decades leading up to now ” you might wonder why we keep writing these stories. Why not just use a headline that says, “Ditto. (See last year)” and call it a day.
The answer: Because as much as the plot seems to follow a similar route each winter, the kids (and coaches) change. Rookies become veterans then eventually they move on, opening up the door for the next in line. The fact that the tradition exists is a testament to this pipeline the Tigers have developed across generations.
To wit: Just like you don’t need to tell a shark to like blood, you don’t need to tell a Summit High skier how to approach a state meet.
“You just know coming into it that this is what matters. All the other races, they do matter, but they’re not the one that people look back on the next couple years,” said Tyler Reinking, Summit’s top Nordic skier this season.
With Aspen cross country phenom Noah Hoffman in the field, a state title will be a stretch for any Tiger, Reinking included. However, second place will not be a stretch, and the group of Summit kids who could join Reinking in the top 10 includes Alan Harrington, Thomas Sawyer, Richard Hayes, Marshall Snead and McCabe Jones.
On the alpine side, SHS coach Tory Hauser believes Fletcher McDonald, Zach Fretz and Drew Beling are all capable of winning either the slalom or GS crown. Fretz and McDonald each won a race during the regular season.
“And I think the guys behind them are all really strong too,” said Hauser, who has helped lead the Tigers to six state titles (boys and girls combined) in his four years as coach. “Hunter Black, Brannan Sheely’s been skiing really well, Mark Miller can fly. Look at Drew (Hauser), he was first team (all-state) in GS last year, and I probably have him going 10th or 11th.
“That’s what separates us from everyone else,” Hauser said of the depth.
It helps Summit’s boys that their Nordic and alpine head coaches ” Dayton and Hauser ” have lived in the county for 40 and 27 years, respectively, meaning they, like their athletes, know well the tradition they’re expected to uphold.
However, Dayton refuses to point the finger at himself. He cites all the previous Olympians who have come out of Summit County over the years ” a group that includes his son, Matt, who now designs Summit’s Nordic training program.
Taking credit for the success “is like getting your picture taken with somebody else’s fish,” Gene Dayton said. “These kids are a product of decades of work.”
So then, will the decades of work produce yet another state championship?
Dayton: “Anything can happen in this. We’ve got tough competition, but they have tough competition as well.”
Hauser: “I think it’s the same as it’s been all year. We’ve got such solid depth that even if Aspen’s best guys show up, we have a chance.”
Reinking: “I am a little bit nervous. We’ll need the help of the alpine team, for sure.”
McDonald and his teammates plan to provide just that.
“There’s definitely a few doubts every once in a while,” the senior all-state racer said. “But we’re just gonna have to go out there and get it done.”
” Nordic Classic ” 8:30 a.m., Vail Nordic Center
” Alpine Giant Slalom ” 11 a.m., Golden Peak
” Alpine Slalom ” 9 a.m., Golden Peak
” Nordic Freestyle ” 3 p.m., Vail Nordic Center
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