Year after year, it is reinforced that few high school sports are more weather-dependent than alpine skiing.
Here on Cape Ann, we haven’t exactly had traditional winter weather so far with warmer temps than usual and more rain than snow to this point. It took a little while for the snow to reach local mountains as well, but there was enough to get things started for the Manchester Essex girls alpine ski team on Jan. 17.
“We were lucky to get a few ‘early’ snowstorms that got us on snow earlier than expected,” explains ME skiing coach Molly Friedman. “Otherwise, we're stuck doing dryland which gets boring, and the student athletes are itching to get on the snow. Now, it's a different story. The rain definitely hindered the season, but we're staying positive, and a lot of the student athletes ski up north during the weekend to keep them in shape. The league definitely does what it can to get a race in even if the conditions aren't perfect.”
The Hornets feature a smaller roster than in year’s past, a number that has been boosted by the addition of Grace O’Neill and junior varsity skier Hennix Ogren as part of a co-op with Triton.
“Both have proven to be valuable racers and team members,” says Friedman.
Twins Grayson and Sienna Crocker are familiar faces on the team, with both serving as co-captains for the Hornets this winter.
“They have been key members both on the mountain and off,” Friedman says of the two seniors. “They always come with a positive attitude, are always willing to help the coaches and fellow team members and give it their all on the racecourse. I have loved watching them over the past two years progress as racers.”
The rest of the team includes returnees from last season in Caroline Willwerth, Celia Mannal and Kiernan Day, along with senior Kate Bappe, middle schooler Madison Day and the O’Neill and Ogren coming in from Triton.
“I expected Madison Day to be a strong skier just like her sister Kiernan and was right,” says Friedman. “She will be super fun to watch progress as an athlete. I had a good feeling about Grace before seeing her on snow and was right. She is an extremely strong and technical skier."
The early season includes dates on the schedule against Andover and North Andover on Jan. 29, along it return trips to Bradford Ski Area on Jan. 31 and Feb. 5.
“Schedule going forward is pretty weather dependent,” explains Friedman, who adds, “[In] each race a school competes against two other schools as well as trying to get the best individual score.
While she is thankful that the snow has finally hit the slopes and that the team is already showing promise, Friedman is also thankful for the help she is getting from her assistant coaches this winter for one very important reason.
“I am just about eight-and-a-half months pregnant and have had the fortunate help from my assistant coaches Avery Hayes and Jerry Murphy to get through the season while I take a step back,” she says.