Teen Spotlight: Spring athletes find advantages, disadvantages to winter
Late-season snowfalls impact practice, competitions
Special to the Snowmass Sun
In Aspen, where snow usually falls between September and June, winter sports are the hub of activity for the longest season of the year.
But when the mountains close and the snow continues to fall, spring sports end up feeling the impacts.
Aspen High School’s spring sports include lacrosse, golf, baseball and tennis. With a recent series of spring snow storms putting a damper on outdoor practices and competition, some Aspen High School athletes said they believe it has left them at a disadvantage when they play against teams from places with more adequate weather.
The AHS girls golf team has been practicing inside using golf simulators. When they are not practicing inside, they have traveled to River Valley Ranch in Carbondale to practice, which can be anywhere from a 45-minute to an hourlong drive. Lenna Persson, a freshman golfer, believes that Aspen and other ski towns are in an unfavorable position from the lack of sufficient playing time in decent weather conditions.
“I 100% think that AHS has a disadvantage compared to other schools when it comes to spring sports,” Persson said. “Spring sports start so early and by the time we have tournaments and games, there is still snow on the ground, and we haven’t had any time to practice in our normal training facilities. In places like Denver, they have been able to train outside long before the competition season.”
Most spring sports at Aspen High School start in March, which is on average the snowiest month of the year, according to 2020 and 2021 data from a National Weather Service station located at the city of Aspen Water Department. The station had logged an average of nearly 27 inches of snow each March since 1934; that’s an inch more than the averages in January and February, which average about 26 inches of snowfall. April is plenty snowy too, with an average of about 16.5 inches falling that month.
While adapting to undesirable conditions may seem strenuous, it is important. It has become easier for Aspen High School teams to adapt to these playing conditions as the season has carried out. Persson believes that playing golf inside is better than not playing golf at all.
“I would say that AHS girls golf has adapted to playing inside in a good way,” Persson said, “in the beginning of the season there’s not very many options for us, and the fact that we can practice indoors is a good way to get some work done before we go to tournaments. If we couldn’t have practiced inside, we would have gone into varsity tournaments after not touching a golf club for months.”
The late snowfall has left a bigger impact on spring sports this year compared to years in the past. Persson, who has been playing golf since she was 7 years old, feels the impact this year especially.
“A tournament we had got canceled and then delayed another time because the golf course got a foot of snow,” Persson said. “That cancellation affected us because the tournament got delayed to the day after our (River Valley Ranch) tournament, and for some of the newer players that was a real struggle playing a tournament two days in a row.”
“I myself struggled a bit mentally because I felt that it was so early in the season to be playing a two-day tournament,” she added.
The Aspen girls lacrosse team has also had numerous practices inside. These practices typically take place in the Skier Dome, which has little room for an outdoor field sport like lacrosse. (The Skier Dome is about 15,000 square feet, just a fraction of a standard lacrosse field’s 59,400 square feet of playing space.)
Michaela Kenny, a starter on the AHS girls varsity lacrosse team, sees pros and cons to winter weather’s impacts on spring sports. The lack of space indoors can be a challenge for training, but the cold outside isn’t exactly helpful for motivation or focus either, Kenny said.
But with the drawbacks of spring snow, there are benefits as well, according to Kenny.
“I think that the weather here has been a bit of a blessing as well as a challenge,” Kenny said. “It has been hard to use the gym often, however, playing in hard weather also makes us stronger.
“Compared to other schools in Colorado, we tend to be able to play better during colder games because we are more accustomed to it,” she added.
Quintessa Frisch is a freshman at Aspen High School. This is her first year writing for the Skier Scribbler student newspaper.
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