Area ski teams celebrate snow, move forward with season’s first race

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By Kevin J. Stone, Contributing Writer

Sun shined through clouds of artificial snow at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury earlier this year. (Photo/Cheryl Arsenault)

REGION – If anyone was going to appreciate the first big snowfall of the year on January 7, it was the region’s high school ski teams.

While schools closed and community members begrudgingly shoveled their driveways, many skiers were celebrating since they had not been able to ski much this season. 

While other athletic programs have dealt with COVID-19 shutdowns, the region’s high school ski teams just needed the weather to get a little more snowy.

“It’s been kind of tough with the weather,” Algonquin coach Wayne Hey said in an interview with the Community Advocate earlier this month. “We’ve been out skiing for three weeks, but we don’t have enough snow depth to set up the gates.” 

“It’s been tough on us, it’s been tough on everyone,” he continued. “It’s been tough on the hills too, places keep making snow and we keep getting rain.”

Coach celebrates team’s patience, resilience

Hey has been coaching since 1998. This season, his team had been doing a lot of ski-related workouts and taking an occasional rush at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury. But the lack of actual competitive races had been tough.

“We’re just out there skiing up and down the hill and doing a lot of different exercises to try and help them achieve a better performance,” Hey added. “It’s about finding better balance, refining your rotary skills, refining your pressure and edging skills.”

Hey said he was excited about the teams he saw before him.

“We’ve got two good teams, and we’ve got a really good, strong girls team,” Hey said. “It’s not just who comes in first—the top five kids count for points as far as team points go so we have some good depth.”

Leading those teams, Hey said he’s been impressed with the patience team members have shown. 

“Working with the weather we have, the kids are excited and want to start racing,” he said. “But they’ve been good about taking things as they come and just doing the best we can until we can get out and start competing.”

Teams hold first race

Teams from Shrewsbury, Algonquin, Westborough and St. Johns finally did hit the slopes for a race last week on Jan. 13 as part of the Central Massachusetts Ski League at Ski Ward.

The Algonquin girls team won the day in the girls competition, scoring 956 points to best second place Hopkinton by 42 points.

Algonquin girls skiers had three of the top 10 fastest race times, with Alexa Butterfield, Mina Utzschneider and Jula Utzschneider taking the second, fourth and seventh place spots respectively. 

The boys team didn’t have any skiers in the top 10. But the squad as a whole finished fourth out of 10 teams.

Shrewsbury finished in third place in the girls race while Westborough took fourth. 

Colonials skier Anyee Li ranked third in individual results, with Sophie Scerbin taking a sixth-place finish for the Rangers. 

Westborough finished in third place in the boys race. Shrewsbury landed in fifth place.

St. John’s took second place overall, with Mihai Gavala, Robbie Cotter and Brendan Dube taking fourth place, sixth place and ninth place in the individual rankings.

Shrewsbury’s Kieren Ghidella also cracked the top 10 individual race times with a fifth-place finish.

Teams are due back in action on Thursday.