Though snow so far has been sparse, skiers across the state are prepping for the winter days ahead.
Battle Mountain boys head coach Simon Marsh has his team well underway in their dry-land training, knowing that showing up in shape is half the battle. Continual success starts well before the ski boots are on, and nobody knows this better than Marsh.
Last February, his squad won their second consecutive championship, with Marsh being named coach of the year. In 2015, the state title was led by standout skiers Sans Simonton and Keenan Zopf. When they graduated, seniors Quintin Cook and Luke Vickerman carried on the winning performance for a repeat championship.
Their points were crucial. Now there are holes in the roster, but goals are still as high.
“No question a three-peat will certainly be a challenge without these skiers who were both experienced racers and great athletes," Marsh said. "However, nothing is out of reach for this year’s teams. We have a group of motivated skiers who were a part of last year’s teams, ready to train and compete.”
They'll look for strong performances from Bryce Runckel (one of the three scorers in the slalom race last year), Dutch Schroeder and Michael Barrett. And those hopeful performances derive from Marsh's emphasis on training.
“Most specifically to being a top contender, we take pride in our commitment to holding quality on-hill training, where we keep a focus on the ever-important fundamentals to ski racing that we build on during the season in preparation for the State Championships,” Marsh said.
On the girls side, the 2016 championship crowned Aspen as the new top dog, after two years of victory for Summit. Similar to Battle Mountain, dry-land practice is a top priority. The girls practice five days a week and occasional Saturday's for lengthier time. It hones their endurance base while simultaneously increasing the athletes’ strength and speed. All of these, of course, are transferable to the hill.
This year won’t mirror last year though, At the moment, the team lacks the depth it had last year, a depth that other teams are full of.
“This year is completely different. We graduated some big skiers and have a few currently injured,” said coach Travis Moore. “We are simply focusing on building skills and fitness in hopes that in the coming years we are able to get back on top,”
But, like Marsh, Moore has hopes and they start now. “We will still train hard and see where it takes us,” says Moore. “The rivalry between us and Summit has been strong for years, sharing titles back and forth. It’s always a lot of fun to see how it plays out.” Juniors Chelsea Moore and Jozie Willie plan to lead Aspen this season.
- Defending champions: Battle Mountain (boys); Aspen (girls)
- State Championship: Feb. 23-24, Steamboat Springs