As incoming snow storms approach the state of Colorado, many ski resorts and mountains begin to open. Skiing is a very popular activity that surrounds the Durango community, and it is beginning to grow within Durango High School.
Two years ago, DHS brought back the Alpine ski racing team. Alpine ski racing has embedded itself as one of Durango High Schools 26 sports, along with Nordic ski racing. This year, the DHS Nordic Team returned to the plentiful choices of sports available at the school, after both the Alpine and Nordic teams were cut in the early 80’s.
Having snow only during one-fourth of the year, it can difficult for many skiers to practice annually. Many of the returning Alpine ski racers, like So. Harold Lesage, are eager to return to the slopes.
“I’m excited to get back into the high school racing season. Its super mellow and fun, and has a really great social environment,” said H. Lesage.
This season, H. Lesage is a captain of the Alpine ski team, alongside Jr. Maddie Jo Robbins. Both Robbins and H. Lesage have been skiing since they were young and have a lot of racing experience.
On the contrary, there are many skiers on the Alpine and Nordic teams who have no past racing experience, but the coaches of both teams highly encourage those athletes to try out for Alpine or Nordic racing with the high school, especially those who can’t afford the gear.
Robbins recently injured her wrist, which is holding her back from competing this year, but she still plans on helping out with both teams as much as she can.
“I hope to make sure that everyone enjoys the ski season. I won’t be able to compete, but I’m hoping that I can help both the Alpine and Nordic teams in many ways, especially because we are hosting state this year,” said Robbins.
After having really successful run at State last year, Durango is honored to host the State Championships for both Alpine and Nordic ski racing this year. State Championships will take place at Purgatory and the Durango Nordic Center.
In order for ski teams to qualify to win state in Colorado, they must have both an Alpine and Nordic team. Head Alpine Ski coach, Leah Lesage, is very excited that DHS skiing is now qualified to win state, especially because it is hosted at home.
“Last year our girls team got second at state. We weren’t able to win state because we didn’t have a nordic team. In order to win state you need to have a nordic team, which we now have,” said L. Lesage
Being the third year that DHS has had an Alpine Ski Team, its members have grown from 15 to 30 athletes over the past three seasons.
With a Nordic team available to students, there are a small amount of athletes, like Jr. Miles Bronson, who participate with both teams.
“I think it’s the teams flexibility that help me to do both. I’m really excited to be apart of and travel with both teams,” said Bronson.
Head Nordic Ski coach, Evan Elliott, has been coaching since he was 21 years old. He’s coached as the assistant head coach for the Nordic teams in Boulder and in Vail, at both the high school and club levels. He attended DHS for High School, but never got to Nordic ski for the school, as there was not a Nordic team available.
“I’m very excited that a nordic team is at DHS now. I was a student at DHS and we never had a ski team, so I’m really happy I can help out coach this team,” said Elliott.
Elliott has a tremendous amount of experience that will aid the team in this seasons hope for success. Elliott has also worked with Olympic skiers at waxing booths, and has helped out at many ski camps.
Being the first year that DHS has a Nordic team, Elliott plans on having fun with all the athletes, while developing their racing skills.
“At practice we plan on working a lot on technique (skating and classic skiing) and fitness. I plan on having a lot of fun games to help us practice our techniques and get prepared for races,” said Elliott.
Similar to the Nordic team, the Alpine team is developing the skills in the returning and new skiers.
“At practices we work a lot on tactics for racing, like where turns start and end, and getting more familiar with the courses,” said L. Lesage
With many new athletes joining the ski teams, both coaches want to help them be as successful as possible.
“My goal for this season is to help the athletes achieve their goals. I want to provide them with the most help I can to make them successful,” said Elliott.