The EDSS ski team wrapped up a successful season at the provincial alpine championships earlier this week, with the girls’ squad finishing on the podium in both events.
Together, the five girls placed seventh out of 16 teams in the slalom event on Monday and eight in the giant slalom on Tuesday.
The provincial finals are the first time they’ve competed in the slalom event; Chicopee, where they practice, set up a slalom course for two races last week.
The team results combine the times of the top three skiers, but all members of the team have to make a clean run. They race twice in each event, once in the morning and once at night.
“We thought it was remarkable they had 20 clean runs over the two days,” said coach Terry Lapalme. “They showed so much spirit and determination and team spirit in terms of pulling together and improving on each of their runs, it was wonderful.”
One girl, Alanna Shuh, just barely made a clean run in the slalom, crossing the finish line on one ski.
“She lost it about two gates from the finish, tried to put in back on, tried to carry it and went around the last two gates and then just threw it over the finish,” Lapalme said. “The rule is you just need three pieces of equipment crossing the finish line, so she had one ski and two poles and that was fine.”
Shuh was disappointed with her time; losing the ski cost her about 10 seconds on the run. When she raced again in the afternoon, she shaved 13 seconds off the morning’s time, which put her in better spirits.
The boys’ team didn’t qualify for the provincials; only the first-place team advances from CWOSSAA. They had a strong showing at WCSSAA, however, finishing first, second and third in the individual events and first overall as a team.
EDSS competes in level 1 events, for skiers who have only raced at the high school level. Level 2 teams have skiers who race or have raced at the club level.
They have a very condensed season in which to hone the finer points of the sport. Dry-land training – biking, running stairs, crunches and squats – starts at the end of November, but the team doesn’t get on the snow until the week after Christmas break. WCSSAA is the following week, and then there’s a two-week hiatus for exams. Then the regionals, and a week later, the provincial championship.
“It’s such a short season,” Lapalme said. “There’s no breathing room.”
The ski team will be in a bit of a bind next season: three of the girls are in Grade 12 and will be graduating. Lapalme said they sometimes have difficulty finding students to join, because they think racing experience is required.
“There is a misconception that you have to be a very good skier and race,” she said.
The truth is, most of the students who join the ski team are just competent skiers, and they learn to race with the team.
There’s a wide range of ability on the team; some members have skied for years, and others are relatively new to the sport.
“Some were just OK skiers when they started,” Lapalme said. “They have so much drive and commitment to learning the sport that they have become very competitive skiers.”