Middle Park skied for speed Friday at Winter Park Resort in the alpine team’s first race of the season, which was like a home game for the Panthers.
“We really like it,” coach Jeff Burrows said of starting the season at Winter Park. “The kids are more comfortable with the venue here … and they ski it a lot. It’s a really good way to get everything started.”
Friday’s field featured more than 200 student-athletes in the boys and girls races from six different schools, showing just how popular the sport is.
The students who compete with Middle Park’s alpine team do so by participating in a school program that allows them to focus on core curriculum for part of their days while logging time at Winter Park for the other part. Through the program, students choose to focus on different skiing disciplines, such as Nordic, alpine or freestyle skiing.
“We have probably one of the best systems out there with the strong partnerships that we have,” Burrows said, emphasizing that community support is key.
The Middle Park alpine team, which includes three skimeisters who compete in both Noric and Alpine races, put about two dozen athletes on Friday’s giant slalom course at Winter Park, and there were a number of notable finishes.
During the girls race, Middle Park’s Ella Wiser was third overall, followed by Sofia Olsson (7th), Ryley Hofsetz (27th), Mia Rimmer (37th), Clara Galdin (47th), Alison Fox (48th) and Selena Stoncius (54th). As a team, the girls finished third behind Steamboat and Vail Mountain.
In the boys competition, Zach Niedzwiecki had the Panthers’ top finish after placing sixth overall. He was followed by teammates Daniel Juricek (38th), Britton Burns (45th), Nick Life (49th), and Sam Parker (55th). The boys were fifth as a team.
Parker might not have had the fastest time of the day, but he was one of the crowd favorites, as the roar of a small gathering at the finish line could be heard far up the mountain when Parker completed the race.
For Burrows, it’s great seeing such strong support for the team among the community.
“It matters,” he said.