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The Wellesley High School alpine ski team is poised to kick off its season this evening, and while most people think of ski racing as an individual competition, when it comes to high school alpine racing, it’s also a team sport with experience for the athletes that go far beyond the thrill of victory.
The primary goal is to win, and team members contribute to that effort with their individual runs and times. However, according to Wellesley High School team racers, there are many wonderful experiences along the way. While only eight boys and eight girls race varsity, more than sixty athletes are on the team and participate together in dry-land and on-snow practices. “The best part of ski team is the community. Period,” noted senior co-captain Jonah Tobin. “I love skiing. I love racing. But what brings so many athletes back year after year is the atmosphere. Every athlete regardless of grade or gender becomes friends with and helps each other on the race hill.”
Wellesley brings a rich history of success in alpine skiing into this season. In the past ten years, the boys’ team has won two state titles, and the girls’ team has matched that with two of its own. The team has the depth that positions them well to challenge for another championship this season. In addition to training with the high school team during the week, many of the varsity skiers train and race in competitive programs in Vermont and New Hampshire on weekends. “Many of the team members are incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to ski up North,” commented senior co-captain Matt McKenna. “It has been an important aspect of supplementing our training with the high school team.”
“The league competition will be very tough this year,” Coach Cory Tusler commented, having worked with the team during on-snow practices in December. “Our goal this season is to qualify both boys’ and girls’ teams into states. Tobin had a top ten individual result at the state championships last spring. McKenna, junior TJ Rubin, and sophomore Sawyer Busny bring experience with top league finishes and qualification for states.”
Tusler added: “many talented underclassmen are competing for the remaining varsity spots in our time trials this week.”
The girls’ team is young and full of potential. Senior co-captain Brooke Baker and junior co-captain Olivia Francis will lead a group of mostly underclassmen, including sophomore Patricia Landers, who competed at states last winter as a freshman. “We have been able to take advantage of the early snow at Ski Ward and Blue Hills, which was really helpful to get a chance to start training with gates before time trials and races start,” Francis noted.
“For the girls,” Baker added, “I think it’s going to be important to make sure everyone does their job this season.”
The ski team season opens this evening at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury with two giant slalom races.