Middle Park’s alpine racers ready for season
With snow finally starting to pile up on our local slopes the ski season is fully upon us including for the student athletes from Middle Park High School who are currently in crunch mode as they work to prepare for the start of the high school alpine ski season.
The Panther ski squad will take their first competition turns of the season shortly after the start of the New Year when the team heads to Ski Copper, located north of Leadville on Highway 24. There are a dozen students competing for Middle Park this year and sixth-year head coach Scott Sutcliffe and assistant coach Peter Butrymovich will guide them through the season.
It is a significantly smaller team than last year when nearly twice as many students came out for the squad. This year’s lower numbers are due mostly to the large contingent of seniors that graduated after competing for the Panthers during the previous ski season. Sutcliffe said the team has a fairly even split with about half boys and half girls and is heavily loaded with freshman.
The team will compete in a total of six separate ski meets throughout January and February and, assuming Middle Park sends competitors to the annual high school championships, will return to Ski Cooper for this year’s state meet, scheduled for mid-February. There are two separate race events in which high school skiers can compete: slalom and giant slalom. Each ski meet is specifically designated as either a slalom meet or a giant slalom meet.
The first race of the year in Ski Cooper will be a giant slalom event. The following week the Panthers will head over to Nederland for a slalom race event at Eldora. The third ski meet of the year will see the Panthers staying home for a giant slalom race at Winter Park Resort, one of three high school ski meets scheduled at Winter Park this season.
Sutcliffe and Butrymovich have been holding twice weekly dry land practice sessions with the Panthers since the Monday after Thanksgiving, focusing mostly on core and leg strengthening exercises. After the start of the New Year the Panthers will be heading up to Granby Ranch for Tuesday night practices under the lights.
As the season gears up and gets underway Sutcliffe expressed his thanks to all the people who make it possible for the Panthers who prepare for their competitions and highlighted both Granby Ranch and Winter Park Resort.
“This is a hugely expensive sport,” Sutcliffe said. “We have to pay for lift tickets, we have bus transportation and other things. Granby Ranch has been great about giving us discounted hill space and the Winter Park Resort Comp Center has been good about giving us space when it is available.”
Sutcliffe also highlighted Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Famer Bob Singley for his support of the team and noted the Tirebiters Ski Club helps support the Panther skiers with their annual St. Patrick’s Day race event held at Winter Park.
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