Alpine ski team brings in variety

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Steamboat Springs Alpine ski team 2006-07 season

All times TBA

SL = Slalom, GS = Giant Slalom

Dec. 15 at Copper Mountain, GS Race

Jan. 4 Steamboat Springs, SL Race

Jan 12 at Aspen, GS Race

Jan 19 at Loveland, SL Race

Jan. 26 at Ski Cooper, GS Race

Feb. 2 at Beaver Creek, SL Race

Feb. 15 and 16 state championships at Vail, Gold Peak

— Chad Bowdre has a difficult job as Steamboat Springs High School's head Alpine ski coach.

First he has to juggle a team on which some members compete in Nordic and Alpine disciplines. Then he has to balance a wide range of athletes, from students just learning the sport to Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes who have been groomed from young ages to qualify for Junior Olympic events.

"It's a really diverse mix," Bowdre said. "That's the wonderful thing about racing - it's a team, but it's individuals that all have their own goals."

At the start of the season, Bowdre had his athletes complete sheets outlining team goals as well as personal goals. The team consensus was to push for a better showing at the state championship races in February in Vail. Last year, the state championships coincided with a higher-level FIS races in Crested Butte. This year, Bowdre said his top Winter Sports Club skiers have a chance to compete in both because they don't overlap.

The Sailors' Alpine season begins today with a giant slalom race at Copper Mountain.

The team has been practicing at the Steamboat Ski Area since Thanksgiving, and its members are anxious to begin competition.

"I'm nervous, but excited," said freshman Kailey Fischer, who has been skiing since she was 1 year old but has yet to experience an Alpine race. "I just don't want to fall."

On the other end of the spectrum are seasoned racers like 17-year-old Jenny Allen. She races on the Winter Sports Club's J1 ability team and recently returned from a Nor-Am Cup race in Lake Louise, Canada.

Bowdre thinks Allen can help fill the slalom spot on the team left by 2006 state slalom champion Kathleen Lyon. Bowdre said he is returning a "very nice, solid field of girls." He thinks each could crack the top 20 in the state. The group of slalom and giant slalom racers includes Hanna Berglund, Jamie Gay, Christina Ford, Sarah Dixson, Carolyn Chotvacs, Lauren Paley, Erika Walters and Anna Anderson.

Anderson again will race for the skimeister division that combines Nordic and Alpine scores. Paley and Walters also will race in the skimeister division.

The boy's team also returns a number of experienced skiers. Bowdre noted Kris Allen's return to ski racing as well as expected contributions from Ian Landry, Jim Hostetler, Wiley Thayer, Ben Paley, Andrew White and Ramsey Bernard.

Bernard, who placed sixth in the slalom as Steamboat's top boys finisher at state, said he plans to focus more on the high school events.

"It's more fun, and a little more laid back," Bernard said about using the high school races to balance the high-pressure races on his J1 team.

Senior Stephen Bell, who joined the team and started racing last year, echoed Bernard's tone.

"It's way more fun with a bigger squad; the team's so much bigger than last year," Bell said. "It's a cool experience - you go to races, get better, and the skills go back to your freeskiing."

While a few of Steamboat's top slalom racers, like Allen, will stay in town for the Holiday Classic FIS races this weekend, Bowdre plans to take a squad of 22 skiers to kick off the Sailors' race season today at Copper Mountain.

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