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Tigers ready for another successful alpine season

Richard Chittick
Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkSummit High School ski racer Taggert Spenst turns around a gate during Thursday's high school giant slalom race at Copper Mountain.
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COPPER MOUNTAIN – When Alex Guras came through the gates of her second run during Summit High School’s first alpine ski race of the season, head coach Tori Hauser looked at her form and nodded his head in approval.

“She had a nice run,” he said as the freshman made the last turn and came through the finish.

Guras posted the fastest time of the Tigers girls squad during her first run.

And while final results weren’t available at press time, Guras likely had a top-15 finish.

“That’s a great result,” Hauser added.

The season began on Thursday as Copper Mountain hosted 14 high school teams from across the state in a giant slalom race held on the Bittersweet run, just west of the American Eagle lift.

The race was the only home event of the Tigers season, and it was complicated by a difficult course that broke down into a rutted mess.

Guras is part of a young Tigers team that has the challenge of following in the bootsteps of one of the most successful alpine teams in Summit High’s history.

Last year, the girls alpine team finished first and combined with the Nordic team to finish second in the overall standings at the state championships at Beaver Creek.

Meanwhile, the boys alpine and Nordic teams are the reigning state champions.

Hauser, though, is honest about the upcoming season. He noted that achieving the same results will be harder in the 2003-04 season.

“There are a lot of good teams out there,” he said. “We won’t be as strong this season, but it doesn’t mean we can’t pull it out. We certainly have kids with the desire.”

Summit lost two of its best skiers from last season, Tucker Burton and Kyle Davis.

Burton, who won both the slalom and giant slalom in last year’s state championship, transferred to the Rowmark Ski Academy in Salt Lake City for her senior year. Davis, the reigning boys giant slalom state champion, simply graduated.

On top of this, one of the Tigers’ up-and-coming sophomores, Jeremy Elliot, injured his knee in the offseason and can’t ski for the team this year.

According to Hauser, the Tigers are also looking for Aaron Hogan, Josh Stein and Taggert Spenst to step up, among others.

Assistant coach Drew Adkins also pointed out Eric Davis: “We have Kyle’s younger brother and he’s every bit as fast as Kyle.”

In fact, according to Hauser, Eric was the fastest racer in the country for his age group for a while last season.

For the girls, look for Sierra Anderson, Kirsten Turner, Lauren Turner, Katie Hartman and Shelly Miller to contribute to the void left by Burton.

Miller had the best combined time of the day after both runs, though her specific place was not available. According to Hauser, she finished in the top 10.

From there, Hauser’s biggest goal is to make the program fun for the racers. “It should be a fun way to hang out with classmates and friends,” he said. “We have top dogs and some who have never done it, and then there’s a lot in between. That’s what is different about the high school level.”

Hauser especially wants to help his club skiers have a mellower experience than racing the regional events with Team Summit and Quantum Sports Club.

Kirsten Turner, who races as a J2 for Team Summit, added: “It’s a lot more relaxed (racing for the high school). It’s more fun sometimes.”

Any way you look at it though, the Tigers are coming off of a stellar season, and the only way to face this season is one race at a time.

“I think we’re going to get better throughout the year,” Hauser said.

“It’s going to be fun to watch them improve.”

Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at rchittick@summitdaily.com


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