FRISCO — More than two dozen Summit High skiers will compete at the Colorado High School Ski League’s state championship Alpine and Nordic events in Beaver Creek Thursday and Friday.
On the Alpine side, the girls team has the potential to finish on the podium— potentially at a high spot — thanks to a deep group of talent in both the slalom and giant slalom. On the boys side, the Tigers will be led by strong freshmen and veteran skiers and could surprise their opponents with a high finish if all goes well, especially in the fickle slalom discipline.
As for the Nordic team, head coach Eva Hagen is proud that 10 Tigers, including eight non-club skiers, qualified for state in a year the program emphasized team unity over strictly strong finishes from individuals.
Reflecting on the season, Tigers junior Liam Goettelman said the energy and cohesion of this year’s team was positive enough for him in his first season to race better than ever before and feel comfortable to rise into a leadership role. Goettleman will be racing at state after a strong season which started off with a first-place finish for the Tigers in the classic at Spring Gulch.
“My kick wax worked pretty well,” he said. “I was also able to gain a lot of time on the downhills compared to other kids, which helped me out.”
Goettleman will be joined at state by teammates Evan Callahan, Jonah Mocatta, Jacob Shriver, Christian Skowron and Jessy Dorton. Goettleman highlighted freshman Skowron as a Tiger who’s risen to the occasion, especially in skate races.
“He has really good technique from the previous years, and he’s also little so he has good turnover,” Goettleman said.
The Summit girls team will have Aubree Confer, Katherine Puc, Chloe Knickrehm and Paige Wescott racing. Hagen said Puc has been a great leader for the Tigers girls this year. Puc has been one of Summit’s top finishers as well, including a standout performance at the Snow Mountain Ranch dual event.
“We went and skied the course beforehand so we knew where to push ourselves during our race,” Puc said, “and that’s a big thanks to the coaches, who’ve really helped with technique and sharing how and where to push ourselves, where to go the hardest and where to rest.”
Wearing bib No. 12, Confer will likely be Summit’s best bet to finish on the top-eight podium at states. She has her sights set on a top-5 finish.
Hagen commended Confer and Shriver for their commitment to the high school team this year despite their busy club schedules, and she said she hopes the positive experience they both had this season motivate other club skiers to give the high school team a chance in future years.
“From third to 12th place, all of us girls in there are really close,” Confer said. “It’s going to be super competitive.”
As for coach Karl Barth’s Alpine team, the Tigers have received a similar level of commitment from top club skiers who will represent Summit at state. Leading the way will be Olyvia Snyder, a sophomore who’s had an outstanding season on the club circuit and should challenge for a win in slalom. Despite some nagging knee pain, Tigers junior Jenna Sheldon has also been a standout club skier who’s proven to be one of Colorado’s best high school competitors.
“I chose to do the high school instead of the (International Ski Federation) race (on Friday) because I get a lot of FIS starts and high school is really fun,” Snyder said. “All my friends are there, it’s for the school and it’s in Beaver Creek, where I’ve skied there a lot since I was little. I’m excited to go there and rip it up.”
Barth said Camille Thompson has also shown she can ski with anyone in the state on this super deep Tigers girls team, which also includes talented skiers Abby Schierholz, Paige Peterson and Victoria Uglyar, who has been super strong in giant slalom all winter. Tiger racers Sophia Henry, Cydney Hurlbert and Bryton Ferrari will also race at state. Olivia Westall qualified but will not race.
“We’re going to go for broke,” Barth said. “We’re in a position with nothing to lose.”
The Tiger boys will be led by senior Sully Wheeler and freshman Michael Cheek.
“Those guys, they don’t get in a race not thinking they can win it,” Barth said.
Barth also expects Gavin Masters to cap a strong season, especially in the giant slalom. There is also the team’s energetic leader (their “glue,” as Barth put it) River Mentch. Landon Cunningham, Toby Gard and Kevin Reddell will also race at states. Tommie Francis qualified but won’t compete.
If Summit’s top boys can put together two solid runs, Barth believes they may be able to surprise some people.
“It’s that careful catwalk where, on one side you think, ‘I’ve got to go fast to win,” Barth said, “and on the other side, you don’t want to not miss finishing by a hair.”