It’s not very often that a champion team brings everyone back the following season. For the reigning Women’s State Ski Champions at Battle Mountain, that’s at least half true heading into the 2022-23 season.
“Our goal is to continue to be on top of the podium and have another successful season for both the men’s and women’s teams,” said Nordics head coach Jeff Apps. The app fires its entire girl squad, including state skimeister champion Lindsey Whitton as well as Haley McKenzie, Presley Smith, all-state classic skier Addison BeucheMolly Reeder and Bella Williams.
Whitton’s Fall Fitness Jump, demonstrated by his 18:17, 25th place finish at the Nike Southwest Regional Cross Country Championships last weekendshould stoke fear among prep skiers in Colorado hoping to topple the current queen of the alpine-Nordic combined.
While the Nordic team has remained intact, it’s a slightly different story on the Alpine side, where head coach Erik Gilbert has to move on without program stalwarts Kamryn Brausch and Robin Pavelich. Pavelich was all over the place in slalom and giant slalom.
“It’s been a growing year as we’ve lost a few key players to graduation and the experience is growing within our team,” Gilbert said. “We will work hard to compete in all disciplines and with the full power of our Nordic team, we will strive to defend our women’s state title.”
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Gilbert expects perennial powerhouse Summit to be strong again, as well as Aspen and Grand on the Alpine side in particular. Gilbert hopes that the team’s process-oriented goals will foster accountability and ownership.
“This year is about culture and commitment,” said the coach. “Ski racing is a fun sport with a lot of joy, while challenging our personal limits. We focus on a team that supports, engages and grows together.
The boys also graduated a few key athletes from Will Bettenhausen, state sKimeister champion Seamus Farrell and Zander Armistead. Gilbert plans to rely on Jakub Pecinka, Henry Regrut, Andrew Conley, Theo Kreuger, Maddy Brown, Ruby Randall and Whitton in 2022-23.
The team’s home slalom race on BearTrap in Beaver Creek is Feb. 10. For the state championships on Feb. 16-17, the Huskies will travel to Copper Mountain. The Nordic team will not be hosting a race this season, but on January 28, VMS will host a classic race with wave starts at Maloit Park. The state championships will be held Feb. 16-17 at the Frisco Nordic Center.
The boy’s Nordic team took a hit with the loss of Sullivan Middaugh, who placed second in the state skate race and third in the state classic race last year, but still returns seven skiers of State – Jacob and Zach Lindall, Kyle Ross, Theo Krueger, Luca Isom, Sawyer Blair and Miles McKenzie.
“We will also have a very strong and deep team that has many athletes who have yet to reach their top performance goals,” Apps said.
With races starting the first week of January but ending in mid-February, the competition portion of the schedule is relatively short.
“We have six weeks of training and then the game starts,” said Apps, who is delighted to have Innes and Lisa Isom and son Christian Apps on his coaching staff. “This coaching team is a ‘dream team’ because I have the opportunity to coach alongside my friends and my son!”
“Every year there are always surprises and strong skiers should come back,” Apps said of the statewide outlook. “Some schools have a year of rebuilding and some will continue to be strong. Looking forward to another awesome ski season.