Pasta dinners, team breakfasts and other group activities are just a few ideas new coach Chad Bowdre hopes to incorporate in his first year leading the Steamboat Springs High School Alpine ski team.
"I want to do some things to make this feel more like a complete team," Bowdre said. "I think it's important for the alpine skiers and cross-country skiers to hang out as a team during the season."
Nordic coach Barry Smith agrees and hopes the two sides of the high school ski team will be able to bond this season off the snow and inspire one another on the snow.
"I would like to see them egg each other on a little bit," coach Smith said. "In a good way."
Last year, Steamboat's cross-country ski teams swept its portion of the state skiing championships. But in high school skiing, it takes a strong effort from the Nordic and Alpine sides to win the title. Summit County had both last year and took the overall title.
If everything goes the way Bowdre and Smith hope this season, the Sailors will make a serious bid for the title.
"It's hard to say at this point of the season," Bowdre said. "I just want to keep the kids interested for the entire season, and then we will see what happens."
The good news is that Steamboat will get most of last year's cross-country team back. The team lost a few seniors, including Austin Ross and Lisl Pearson, who graduated last spring.
But the Sailors will have top skiers Sarah MacCarthy, Korie Steitz and Jennifer Hooper returning to the girls team.
Katie Conrath, Kaitlin Gibbs and Christine Callahan are expected to compete in Alpine and Nordic events this season. Florie Van Baak also might go both ways. Last year, Conrath won the Skimiester award that goes to the top combined high school skier in the state. Bowdre said he thinks she will be in the running again this year, along with several other Steamboat skiers.
The boys cross-country team is expected to be strong. State qualifiers Mike Gleason, Marty Smith, Justin Krause and Paul Rose will be back. Kyle Steitz and Bridger Root also should be strong.
"I think we are still the team to beat," coach Smith said. "I was down in Summit County a couple of weeks ago, and they were talking about beating us this season. I think we should be good again."
Bowdre is hoping for a stronger showing on the Alpine side at this year's state championships.
With top skiers such as Thomas Allen returning to the team, things are looking good. Allen contended for a state title last season and should be in the running again this year. He will be joined on the boys team by Andy White, Ian Landy, Derek Nickum, Andrew Goss and senior Andrew Zopf. The girls Alpine team will be led by Robin Dye, Kathleen Lyon and Priska Sorenson.
Bowdre was happy to have 13 skiers show up for alpine practice last week. The team is expected to begin on-snow training this week, and Bowdre is hoping to have a few more skiers come out for the team.
"There's still time," Bowdre said. "The skiers have to have nine practices in before the start of the season, but we still have some time."
The season will open for the alpine skiers Dec. 17 in Battle Mountain with a giant slalom. The team competes in three giant slalom races and three slalom races in the season. A ski racer must finish in the top 45 percent in one race and start in at least one other event to qualify for the state meet.
The cross-country team will begin its season Dec. 18 in Steamboat Springs. It will be the only time the team competes at home this season. The cross-country skiers will compete in a classic interval, a freestyle mass start, a classic, a freestyle interval and a pursuit race this season.
The state championships will be Feb. 18 and 19 in Summit County. The Alpine races will be held at the Keystone Ski resort, and the cross country races will be at the Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
or e-mail jrussell@steamboat pilot.com