South Tahoe Nordic ski makes long-awaited season debut, opens at Foothill Classic |

South Tahoe Nordic ski makes long-awaited season debut, opens at Foothill Classic

Anthony Gentile
South Tahoe senior Paul Hoefer, pictured at last season’s Foothill Classic, was the Vikings’ second-best finisher in their season opener on Jan. 8.
Courtesy Photo |

SODA SPRINGS, Calif. — The South Tahoe Nordic ski team had to wait until the new year to make its 2015-16 season debut — but finally got on the snow. The Vikings opened their campaign Friday, Jan. 8, in the CNISSF Foothill Classic at Auburn Ski Club, producing results that offer optimism for the rest of the year.

The classic race took place on a fast, hilly course, and skiers took a pair of 2.6-kilometer laps. Well-groomed, fresh snow made for ideal classic skiing conditions, and temperatures in the 20s allowed for the use of hard wax on skis.

South Tahoe was one of nine high schools at the Foothill Classic. The field included Placer High (Auburn, Calif.), a newcomer to the Nordic scene.

The girls took off first, and the Vikings had five skiers at the start line — three in the varsity division and two in the open field. Senior Ally Swain led the small South Tahoe group in its 2015-16 debut, finishing 12th with a time of 22:53.5.

“Ally had a solid race, but we are early in the season and focused on where she will be in early February and at the end,” Hoefer said.

Sophomore Jessie Brown took 15th at the event by skiing a 25:11.5 and senior Kylee Lyons placed 16th with a time of 25:26.2. Sophomore Theresa Sandborn and Freshman Emily Dilts competed in the open division.

“We have a very small group of girls this year,” Hoefer added. “I have to make sure not to push them too hard early in the season, risking injury so that they are not with us at the end of the season.”

Numbers are not an issue for the Vikings’ boys team, which entered the season with depth in both divisions. In the varsity division alone, South Tahoe sent 12 skiers on the course at the Foothill Classic.

“With the depth we have, I can push the boys a bit harder at this point in the season,” Hoefer said.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, they were not quite ready for the starting command in Friday’s race. As a result, South Tahoe’s skiers got off to a slow start and had to play catch-up during the two-lap race.

“I was proud of how they kept their composure and didn’t panic,” Hoefer said. “They were patient and worked their way through the field.”

Orion Maxwell was the Vikings’ top finisher on the boys side at the Foothill Classic. Hoefer said expects a big season from the senior who finished 10th with a time of 18:11.4.

“Orion had a strong ski, and showed me that he is ready to be right up there with the top skiers in the league,” Hoefer said.

Paul Hoefer, who is coming off a foot injury from cross country season, was South Tahoe’s next-best skier — the senior placed 16th by skiing a 20:18.5. Seniors Mario Mangiaracina (17th, 20:21.4) and Daniel Sanborn (21st, 20:50.6) followed closely behind to round out the Vikings’ top four.

“Those three skiers are going to be pushing each other all season, which should give us a solid group,” Hoefer said.

Junior Kyle Ferguson, senior Chase Stalter, freshman Chris Hoefer, senior Paul Mutz, sophomore David Holmes and freshman Ryan Newberger also raced for South Tahoe in the varsity division. The Vikings had five skiers in the open division.

The Vikings’ season opener originally scheduled for early December at Kirkwood Mountain Resort was canceled due to weather, pushing back their debut for a month. South Tahoe returned to action at Sugar Bowl Resort on Friday, Jan. 15, with its first skate race of the season.

“These two races should give us a good perspective of where we fall in relation to all the teams in the league,” Hoefer said.

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