As snow falls up on the ski mountains of Sugarbush and Mad River, Harwood students are preparing for the competitive Alpine Ski team to kick into gear. There is a lot expected of the team this coming winter according to Harwood returning members, junior Liza Jernigan, senior Michael Aiken, junior Gretchen Kogut, and head coach Katie Westhelle.
Last season, Highlanders went into the States meet where every team in the state of Vermont comes out to race, with high hopes. “Leading up to states we had been really consistent with our good results. In general we were very successful, and we went into states ranked first in our district” said Jernigan.
Last year’s results from the regular season showed that both girls and boys were highly ranked, until States came around. “The majority of our states team either crashed or was disqualified during their runs” continues Jernigan. The team unfortunately didn’t do how they had hoped with such a monumental season, however there is no doubt this upcoming season won’t be successful.
Harwood senior Michael Aiken believes that though the team lost a lot of valuable skiers last winter, they will still do well with a young team. “There is still a lot of experience on the team, so it’ll be fun to see how this year plays out” he said. Coach Westhelle says that the team will be very strong on both ends this season! “I think we will have a strong girls and boys team. I think our girls team will be one of the strongest in the northern conference”.
After losing star senior Rex Rubinstein, Harwood boys may struggle to continue their streak of successful seasons. Rubinstein had been competing with an individual from CVU for the 1st place position in the district. Having a massive impact on our boys team (which consisted of mostly soon-to-be graduates), the upcoming season could be a hit or miss.
“We’re very optimistic about our season” said Gretchen Kogut, “we’re definitely going for a state championship, and it is a very fun and supportive group of people. Even if you have never ski raced, the team is still a lot of fun”.
Now, many are curious on if a new assistant coach has been chosen for the team. According to Westhelle, no one has been hired yet. She is hoping parents will volunteer their time to assist in races, until a coach is found. Along with looking at alumni athletes to volunteer over their college winter breaks.
Alpine training is held at Cochrans Ski Area Tuesdays and Thursdays after January 2nd from 3:00-6:15 PM.
“Harwood will be hosting our first event on December 13th at Mad River Glen, this will be similar to last year, with drills and gate training in the morning, in the afternoon we will have timed runs, this will not count as any official race as many of the teams participating will not have 10 official practices in, the requirement to race. Mad River Glen is opening on this day just for this event. Our first official race will be held at Mt Ellen on Sunday, January 2nd and Monday January 3rd, hosted by Champlain Valley Union” says Coach Westhelle.