Alpine ski team preview
Last year, the South Tahoe High School Alpine Ski team finished in second place by one point to North Tahoe.
This year, Viking coach Mike Shreve feels his team has the potential to finish on top of the standings.
“(Last year) we were atop the standings for most of the year,” Shreve said. “Then at the last race, we had a couple of crashes and I just reached over and shook the North Tahoe coach’s hand and said, ‘Congratulations.”
Shreve has a loaded girls team coming back and a boys team that has a great deal of potential, despite losing three of its top four skiers.
A trio of talented juniors are absent from this year’s roster. Chris Little transferred to Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, Calif. , Cory Harris is currently being home schooled and Chris McKean is still deciding to join the team.
The lone junior in the group who is currently on the Vikings’ squad is Danny “Wimpy” Lear.
“I looked at these kids last year and I was thinking as juniors they’re going to be untouchable,” Shreve said. “Now with some of them not here, there’s some work to be done.”
But there is potential in Shreve’s skiers. Joining Lear on this year’s team are juniors Drew Ketelson and Nick Martin, as well as seniors Ryan Schue, team captain Geoff Henderson, Toby O’Brien, and Aaron Strickley.
Henderson, coming back from a broken femur, is expected to anchor the team, while O’Brien is going to be one of the consistent skiers on the team.
“Toby is our workhorse,” Shreve said. “He’s got a competitor’s heart and probably will have scored the most points in four years at the school.”
The biggest surprise of the early season has to be Strickley. In the school’s opening scrimmage at Mammoth Lakes, Calif., the senior surprised the coaching staff with the top STHS finish.
“He just blew our minds,” Shreve said. “He’s really coming into his own.
“Aaron is skiing really, really, really well right now, and the difference is he’s very relaxed out there.”
Kyle Krougt leads a group of young skiers that promise a bright future for Shreve. Krougt was the second-highest finishing boy at Mammoth Lakes.
“He’s going to be one of our top skiers this season,” Shreve said. “His finish at Mammoth proved that to us.”
Another nice addition to the team is Ryan “Velcro Hands” Hickey. Normally, a bump skier, the senior is pulling double duty this winter by competing with the Alpine team as well.
“He is an excellent skier, and our only cross-over competitor this year,” Shreve said.
As for the girls team, depth is the key word.
Led by freshman Kylese Zaiger, the Vikings field a team that goes eight deep.
At Mammoth Lakes, the Viking girls finished first through fifth and look to have the strongest team in a while.
Joining Zaiger is a very talented group of skiers, including seniors Alexis Rudd, Diana Higman, and Shayna Gianelli; as well as sophomore captain
Kristin Royce, Caitlin Robinson, Lilly Palmieri, and junior Janae Apland.
Shreve is looking for big things from all of his team, but expects Higman, Gianelli and Robinson to have a huge year.
Like O’Brien, Higman’s speciality is consistency, while Gianelli is coming back from a broken knee suffered a year ago.
“Shayna is on the road to recovery and should have a good year for us,” Shreve said. “And Diana is going to rack up some serious points for us throughout the season.”
Robinson is the wildcard, according to Shreve.
“She skied the fourth fastest time for us(at Mammoth Lakes),” Shreve said. “She’s one person to keep an eye on.”
However, all eyes will be on the entire team when it returns to competition next Wednesday at Alpine Meadows.
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