AHS ski teams look to freshmen for edge
For the Aspen High School boys and girls ski teams to repeat as combined state champions this season, they’ll need some help from the unproven freshman class.
Aspen returns nine all-state skiers (meaning they ranked in the top ten last season), though the coach of the boys and girls teams said freshmen will need to add depth to the squads in order to achieve champion status again.
“We will be competitive,” said Mike Flynn, an AHS science teacher and coach of the boys and girls teams. “We have a strong nucleus coming back. We’ve got several skiers who will do very well, and a lot of freshmen. The freshman pool is kind of unknown, but we anticipate they’ll be good. Our sophomores on up are good, we know that, so our season’s basically going to depend on how our freshmen are.”
About 35 student-athletes make up Aspen High’s boys and girls ski teams, 13 of whom are freshmen.
This weekend, the teams open their season at Steamboat Springs with a 5k Nordic freestyle race today and a slalom Saturday for the alpine racers.
“Doing well is not our number one goal” this weekend, Flynn said. “What we’re trying to do is start the qualification process for (state championships).”
On the AHS girls team, the Skiers return Nordic racer Jenny Hamilton, who skied to a state championship last season as a freshman. Sophomore Maile Wade also returns to the girls Nordic team as an all-state skier last season.
On the girls alpine team, three seniors who earned all-state honors last year return lead the team this year: Kate Jensen, Ashley Cantrell and Ali Crum.
On the boys team, senior Nordic racers Michael Otte and Conor Flynn return as all-state skiers.
Sophomore alpine racer Jesse Durrance took second in the slalom at the state championships last year, and should be competitive again this season in the alpine events. Senior Patrick Sewell, an all-state racer last season, is also back for the Skiers boys team.
“We have nine all-staters on the team,” Flynn said, “and they’re good. But you need depth to do well and that’s where these freshmen have an opportunity to help us out and be very competitive.”
The AHS boys and girls ski team will compete in six races (both alpine and Nordic) before the state championships, slated for Feb. 23-24 at Ski Cooper in Leadville.
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