Ski-peat for South Tahoe |

Ski-peat for South Tahoe

Micheal Traum

Say it now – the South Tahoe High Alpine team is the back-to-back California State Champion.

A typically stellar girls performance coupled with an out-of-nowhere boys outing propelled the Vikings, who were also the Central-2 Division winners, to the combined 1996-97 California Interscholastic Ski Federation title at Northstar-at-Tahoe on Tuesday.

The girls team also finished as the state’s top group, while the boys, hindered by the sudden loss of some top skiers for team violations, grabbed second overall.

“In the back of our minds, we were thinking, ‘Can we take state,'” said coach Mike Shreve. “We had to step up to the challenge. It’s nice to know we can show our sponsors that we can put together back-to-back teams.”

Leading after Monday’s slalom race, the Vikes knew it would all come down to Tuesday’s giant slalom to decide which of the 28 teams was the best in the state.

Unlike last season, this year’s format featured the top four skiers from each boys and girls squad. In the two-run format, where the top three results are scored, the girls went first. Targhee Orr’ led the way with a fifth-place. Amelia Edwards collected an eight-place and Jaci Rolfe, who was “feeling the pressure” after teammate Alicia Allegrini fell, posted an 11th.

“I took a high line and it took my ski off,” said Allegrini, a team captain. “I told Jaci it’s not the course, it’s me. She always pull through when we need her.”

That set the stage for the boys, who were in the thick of it after the first run thanks to Ryan Shreve’s fourth, Mitch Underhill’s fifth, Chris “Spence” Spencer’s 27th and Nick Stoddard’s 40th. The four boys, who respectively began the day in 40th, 54th, 68th and 102nd spots, delivered when they had to in the second runs, finishing, in the same order, fourth, fifth, 28th and 29th.

“That’s not bad for a bunch of guys that don’t even ski far West,” joked Underhill.

Added ‘Spence’, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to finish two runs.”

But even then, the team didn’t know what the final results would be, since the tabulations lasted well past the final race.

Gathered in the awards room, the subdued Vikes eagerly listened as the top three were announced.

“In third place,” recounted Shreve, “is Mammoth. In second, Nevada Union.”

At that moment, much like a Miss America contest, the Vikings realized they were the back-to-back state champions.

“We all screamed. It’s nice to have two in a row because now we should get all of the respect we deserve,” Edwards said.

As the entire group traveled home after the exhausting, exhilarating day, the rallying cry for this year’s squad was what they wanted to be remembered by: “In closing, the South Tahoe ski team would like to say – Go big, or go home.”

For two-straight years, the Vikes have gone bigger than big – they’ve gone huge.

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