The Valdez ski team took to the road this weekend for their first race of the season at Birch Hill. The chilly temps and sparse snow made for some tough conditions, but the team was able to get in some very valuable on-snow time in a, thus-far, sparse snow year. The team has only been on snow twice prior to this race thanks to Mark Prevost grooming a course for us up on the pass last week. This year’s team consists of 14 student athletes but we only travelled twelve to the race. Of that group, only seven were experienced enough to safely race the challenging course. The remainder of the team got in two days of excellent technique work including the first time skiing on hills. The high school division was dominated by 4A powers, West Valley, Lathrop, and Colony but our kids held their own and did their best relative to their personal levels of experience, technique, and conditioning!
Senior Taylor Huston was the top Buc team finisher with a very strong 21st place finish in the field of 45 girls. Huston was 11 seconds out of top 20 recognition. Senior Angie Alfaro was our only other entry, and she also had a solid, competitive race finishing in 28th position. Senior Rylee Norris was at All-State music and unable to attend this one.
Overall, the boys team had solid performances for the first time out of the chute. The Buc boys were led by junior Ben Swanson who posted an excellent performance earning him 22nd place out of 59 racers, missing top 20 by 6 seconds. Following Swanson with great efforts were much improved seniors Chris Cummins (38th) and Colton Prevost (39th). Senior James Hancock (47th) and junior Josten Carlson (49th) have been both dealing with nagging leg injuries but competed well and will significantly improve as we spend more time on snow.
Our outstanding group of first year skiers are as follows: seniors Caitlin Connell and John Banner, junior Gabe Hendrix, sophomores Victoria Korenev and Rowan Miller, and freshman Grace Keller. This group is athletic, tough, and have a great work ethic—they just need on-snow time. We will see immense improvement each week as this long season progresses. Former Buc skier Timi Miner is serving as invaluable assistant coach, and we are again ably assisted by volunteer coach, groomer, driver, chaperone, and parent (not volunteer) Mark Prevost.
Story courtesy of XC Ski Coach Pete Toye
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