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Warriors, Vikings excited about skiing seasons despite limited snow

While snow is a mysterious missing ingredient from Lake Tahoe ski resorts this winter, the drought won’t keep the Tahoe Basin Ski League from opening today at Alpine Meadows.

Whittell and South Tahoe high schools renew their South Shore rivalry along with Truckee, North Tahoe, Incline and Douglas at 10 a.m. at Alpine Meadows.

“I think the kids are really excited – it’s the first meet of the season – despite the lack of snow,” said Whittell ski team advisor Mike Kiger.



Enthusiasm also is overflowing just down U.S. Highway 50 at South Tahoe High.

“Everybody is anxious, but we don’t really know what the fireworks are going to look like until the results are in,” said Viking coach Mike Shreve.




While dry early season conditions may slow a few teams, it won’t be an excuse for Kiger’s Whittell squad. The team has been spending a lot of time on Heavenly’s World Cup run, which the resort has kept tourists off to preserve the conditions for racers.

“Basically, Heavenly’s been really good to us,” Kiger said. “They kept the World Cup run in great shape and we’ve been training there.”

But with the early season conditions the way they are, many teams probably will see the first race as a way to warm-up. Kiger anticipates it serving as a good measuring stick.

“We’ll have a whole lot better idea after (today),” he said.

South Tahoe, which trains at Sierra-at-Tahoe, enters its second season back in the Tahoe Basin League with a smaller-than-usual turnout.

“In the past we’ve had to reduce the field from 50 down to 40, and this year everybody made it,” said Shreve of his 31-racer turnout. “More than anything it’s the natural shift to snowboarding and the Jonny Moseley freestyle boom.”

Whittell has a number of returning skiers, and will look to two sophomores to lead them. Sean Weatherston, who was third overall in the Tahoe Basin Ski League championship meet last season, will participate today, but classmate Ben Johnson will miss the event for a race in Utah. Kiger still is looking for skiers to step up behind his top two.

“We’re looking toward them doing a lot for us this year, but you never know until the first meet,” Kiger said.

Senior Corky Novotny, who trained with the USSA Far West Division team this summer, should be Whittell’s No. 1 girls competitor, and make today’s competition.

Shreve’s top returners include Chris Little, Danny Lear, Cory Harris, Jon McKean, Chris McKean, Diana Higman, Jenea Apland and Beth Kirkland. The latter three Vikings all procured a top-10 race finish last year.

Chris McKean, Harris and Higman won’t compete today because of a FIS race commitment at Mount Bachelor near Bend, Ore.

A gifted group of freshman skiers, however, should ease the strain of the missing talent. The Vikings’ frosh firepower includes Brennen Davis, Kristen Royce, Caitlin Robinson and Lily Palmieri.

“They’re probably the most cohesive group I’ve ever coached,” Shreve said. “They enjoy each other. I haven’t had to pull any of them apart by the scruff of the neck yet, and all they want to do is improve. It’s a coach’s dream.”


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