VHS Ski Coach Pete Toye (12-06-15) – Valdez joined teams from Homer, Soldotna, Kenai, Su Valley, Palmer, Wasilla, and Colony this past Saturday for the Matsu Invite Nordic ski race at Government Peak/Hatcher Pass. Excellent snow and temperatures in the low 20’s made for perfect race conditions. This was the first inclusive event for the Region III teams this season and the first 5K skate race ever for three out of the nine Buc athletes that made the trip. Each member of the team skied to their level of potential at this point in each of their trainings and the coaching staff was very pleased with the performances.
In the girls 5K skate, Junior Rylee Norris was the top Valdez performer with an outstanding race that netted her a most impressive 5th place finish in the field of 63. This tough performance establishes her amongst the best skiers in our region. Following Norris, with two other very strong performances, were Junior Taylor Huston who finished 27th and Senior Josie McNelly at 32nd. Only in their second year of skiing, both Huston and McNelly are really starting to come into their own as competitors. Junior Angie Alfaro finished a respectable 56th in her first 5K and only in her third week ever on snow.
In the boys 5K event, Sophomore Ben Swanson finished a very competitive 19th out of 50 racers. Like most of the team at this point in the early season, Swanson will only get faster as his conditioning improves. Senior co-captain Stuart Relay had the best varsity race of his four year career finishing in 32nd position. Junior Colton Prevost also competed well in only his second year of skiing finishing 41st. First year skiers Freshman Isaiah Amberg and Junior Christopher Cummins also finished their first 5K race ever in very positive fashion and maximized their efforts at this point in their development.
Coach Lardy and I were very proud of all the efforts, especially those of our first year athletes. Racing at this level is very hard work that demands both mental and physical toughness along with a great deal of inner resolve, stamina, and courage. We are always most cognizant of exactly what we are asking them to do. We simply request that they do their very best to attack the course, and leave it all on the snow. The team consistently does precisely just that, thus making us all very proud—they’re all winners in their own right!
The next race on our schedule is the Lynx Loppet in Anchorage this weekend if they can make enough snow. If not, we’ll go somewhere else to race. Our first Valdez Town Series Race will be on Saturday, December 19th starting at Cato Bridge at 10:30 AM. Skiers can choose between 7.5K or 10.5K distances.