Summit High School Alpine ski team hopes 15 racers can compete for spot at state
Tigers open season Friday at Winter Park
KEYSTONE — A year after a deep and talented girls freshman class helped the Summit High School Alpine ski team finish third in slalom at the state championship meet, the Tigers again figure to contend for a podium spot at state.
On the boys side, there are talented young freshman and veterans who can help improve the performances over last year as long as they remain consistent throughout the season.
Summit head coach Karl Barth said the girls team’s depth should especially help in slalom racing, a downhill discipline that can significantly alter individual competition results with the slightest of mishaps. Now a sophomore, the talented Tiger Olyvia Snyder will look to replicate her success last year at state, where she led Summit by placing fifth in slalom.
At last year’s state meet in Durango, Summit also saw top-15 finishes in slalom from then-freshmen Paige Peterson (10th) and Jenna Sheldon (14th) who are back for this year’s team. And in giant slalom, Summit is set up for more success this season after Sheldon (10th) and then-freshman Victoria Uglyar (15th) shone at state.
“I think (between boys and girls), we’ve got probably 15 kids — a little over half the team — that have a chance of qualifying for the state,” Barth said at practice Wednesday afternoon at Keystone Resort. “If we get 15, that’d be pretty exciting because you get the kids who are kind of on the fringe in. And you never know; there might be one or two surprises by the end of the year.”
Rounding out that deep group of girls, longtime Team Summit skier Camille Thompson, a junior, figures to contend for top places throughout the season. The Tigers also will benefit from the return of senior Abby Schierholz, who missed last season due to injury, and junior Sophia Henry, who competed at state last year.
Barth said even beyond those names, the Tigers have skiers on the girls side who are capable of top results. And in terms of keeping the squad’s spirits up, Barth credited junior Bryton Ferrari as the energy on the girls team, which also will benefit from the athletic Breanna Roach, who traded her basketball kicks for skis in her senior year.
On the boys side, Barth and his assistant coaches John McMurtry and Dylan Nicoletti expect big things from freshman Michael Cheek, who excelled on the regional and national level for Team Summit as a young ripper.
Jan. 10: Giant slalom at Winter Park
Jan. 17: Giant slalom at Beaver Creek
Jan. 24: Slalom at Copper Mountain
Jan. 30: Slalom at Winter Park
Feb. 6: Giant slalom at Ski Cooper
Feb. 14: Slalom at Loveland Ski Area
Feb. 27: Giant slalom state championship at Beaver Creek
Feb. 28: Slalom state championship at Beaver Creek
“He’s consistent. That’s what amazes me,” Barth said. “He is real smooth and generates a lot of speed. He’s just skiing really well. He went out to Vermont earlier this year and lit it up skiing with a lot of confidence.”
Cheek will be joined at the top of Summit’s results by another talented freshman in Gavin Masters. Then there’s senior Sully Wheeler, a downhiller with years of experience with Team Summit who brings a different athletic makeup to the table from a more slight skier like Cheek.
“Sully is a big, strong boy,” Barth said. “One of the things with the kids who used to ski Team Summit, they’ve logged a lot of hours, so that makes a big difference. Michael and Sully, (should ski to) some top-of-the-podium stuff.”
Barth said Tiger senior River Mentch is the equivalent of Ferrari on the boys side, always bringing the energy and fun to the squad’s training sessions as a senior leader. Alongside him, Barth said Tiger Thomas Francis is one of the veterans the young boys side looks up to.
The Summit coaches also said sophomores Kevin Reddell and Ridge Garett have showcased their skills in preseason practice and should be able to contend for strong finishes throughout the season, which this year runs through the state championship the final weekend of February at Beaver Creek Ski Resort.
“I thinks the girls, as a team, can contend for the podium at state,” Barth said. “We definitely have the ability to give us a shot. There are definitely some really strong teams, and Steamboat is looking really strong this year, too. Everybody thinks it’s easy because you live in ski country, but so does everybody that you race against.”
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