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South Tahoe nordic ski striding into season

Anthony Gentile
agentile@tahoedailytribune.com
The South Tahoe nordic ski team at its home training facility, Kirkwood Cross Country Ski Center. The Vikings are scheduled to open the 2014-15 season Jan. 9.
Courtesy Photo |

STHS nordic ski season schedule

Jan. 9 at Auburn Ski Club (Classic/Wave)

Jan. 16 at Sugar Bowl (Skate/Mass)

Jan. 23 at Truckee High (Skate/Sprints)

*Jan. 30 at Kirkwood Mountain Resort (Skate Relay)

Feb. 6 at Tamarack XC Ski Center (Classic/Interval)

Feb. 13 at Tahoe Donner Cross Country (Pursuit/Mass)

Feb. 28 CNISSF Championships at Auburn Ski Club (Classic/Skate)

* denotes home races

Along with a majority of its neighbors, the South Tahoe nordic ski team will spend the next couple months rooting for snow. The Vikings are scheduled to start the 2014-15 season Jan. 9, and know that snowfall will directly translate to success during their upcoming campaign.

“Last year we didn’t have a lot of snow, so we had a lot of our races in the same place,” South Tahoe junior Paul Hoefer said. “I’m hoping this year with more snow and better weather that we’ll be able to broaden out a little bit and have some fun.”

South Tahoe began practicing Nov. 17, and most of the team’s preseason work has consisted of dryland training. Practices include long runs, plyometrics and circuit training, and serve as the foundation for the upcoming season.

“We’re just trying to build up cardio — nordic skiing is one of those tougher sports and it uses every part of the body,” Vikings fourth-year head coach Mark Hoefer said. “It’s really physically demanding — if you do it right and you put all the effort in there, you’re spent by the time you finish the race.”

For the skating method used in freestyle events, the Vikings travel an hour to practice at Kirkwood Mountain Resort — they train at the resort’s cross country ski center and learn technique with manager Debbi Waldear. With enough snow, South Tahoe can train on campus at Viking Stadium — STHS skiers set up a track on the outside of the football field to practice the classic technique. But that can only happen if the snow sticks locally.

“It’s difficult, especially when you have new skiers — you can’t teach them to ski without the snow,” South Tahoe senior Cara Filce said. “And then for everyone who has skied, it’s hard getting back into the rhythm of it without the actual snow.”

A lack of snow last winter forced South Tahoe to be creative when it came to training. The Vikings practiced off Blue Lakes Road in Markleeville, at Pope Marsh and near Grass Lake — they’re hoping things can be more straightforward this season.

“We don’t get to ski until there’s snow — it’s an uphill battle but nothing we want to be all gloomy about,” South Tahoe junior Orion Maxwell said. “We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature for sure.”

South Tahoe has 27 skiers on this season’s team that will compete in two divisions — varsity and open. As a result of the time the team spends traveling and training together, it becomes tight-knit as the season rolls on.

“The connection that we have with each other is strong — we all do other sports, but with cross country ski we see each other every day,” South Tahoe junior Ally Swain said.

The Vikings compete in the nine-team California Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation along with Truckee, North Tahoe, Incline, Sugar Bowl Academy (Norden, Calif.), Mammoth (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.), Nevada Union (Grass Valley, Calif.), Colfax (Calif.) and Presentation (San Jose, Calif.). South Tahoe finished last season in the middle of the pack on both sides — this year, both the boys and girls are aiming for third-place finishes.

“For schools like us, it’s kind of an upward battle — other schools have special programs just for nordic. Those guys train all year just for one sport,” Maxwell said. “I’m happy at how well we’ve succeeded in the past few years with that — this year I’m liking our chances more.”

Paul Hoefer and Maxwell are two of the top returning skiers on the boys side, and lead a junior group that includes Dillon Lemons, Mario Mangiaracina, Paul Mutz, Daniel Sandborn and Chase Stalter — the Vikings don’t have a senior on this year’s team. Sophomores Matthew Barnett, JP Embry, Kyle Ferguson, Charlie Filce, Freeman George, Dillon King, Maxx Morgan and Ben Sherwin along with freshman David Holmes round out the roster.

“It’s one big group and we’re all doing the same thing — you don’t get the individual feeling as much,” Paul Hoefer said. “It’s a big family, team feeling and you get a lot closer with everybody.”

Cara Filce and Swain headline the girls’ team. The Vikings’ roster features seniors Grace Rosburg and Emma Sower, juniors Skylyn Brock, Kylee Lyons, Kerry Norton, Swain and Tatum Whatford, sophomore Sio Cook along with freshmen Jessie Brown and Theresa Sandborn.

“We don’t have that many new kids, so it has been easier not having to teach too many of them how to ski,” Cara Filce said. “For most of us it has been good review — we’re well on the right track.”

South Tahoe begins the 2014-15 season with a classic race Jan. 9 at Auburn Ski Club in Soda Springs, Calif., the first of seven competitions this season. The Viking≠s’ season and home opener at Kirkwood originally scheduled for Dec. 12 was cancelled due to a lack of snow — it has been moved to Jan. 30.


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