Don’t be fooled by what you see out the back window.
The ski season is underway and the Section II high school competition is set to begin Friday with a Nordic race at Garnet Hill.
The Johnsburg Invitational is a classically styled 5km race with individual starts every 15 seconds. Cross-country skiers from 11 schools are expected in the first of nine competitions this season leading to Section II and the State Championships in February.
For the girls, the question this winter is, will little Mayfield have enough time to rehearse as champions? Following the graduation of Madison Relyea who has dominated the competition for the past two years, Fianna Halloran is the top returner for the Panthers who were undefeated in Section II races last winter.
Katrin Schreiner of Hadley-Luzerne still looks strong this year. Now senior, she was consistent behind Relyea last year – and she has a pretty solid Nordic pedigree. Schreiner’s father Curt, who is also his coach, was a three-time member of the US Olympic biathlon team, and his brother Erik was the region’s Nordic champion three years ago. Other contenders for the hunt this winter include Shenendehowa junior Iris Wiedmann, Johnsburg senior Avery Bayse, and Queensbury seniors Julia Keshmira and Lorraina Guay.
On the boys’ side, Queensbury sophomore Ben Jenkin will be a strong contender to follow his brother Lucas who, as a senior, was undefeated in Section II competition last season. Mayfield coach Ryan Bornt has senior Braydon Jourden and junior Brice Williams again to give Queensbury a run for team honors, while senior Shenendehowa Philip Mathews leads a strong Plainsmen squad. Interesting to watch will be the Glens Falls team as they return to competition after being absent last year due to the school’s COVID restrictions.
One of the advantages of Section II competitors is the continued modernization of the cross-country ski facilities at the ORDA-operated Ski Bowl at Gore Mountain. The snow cover and grooming of the Nordic Center allowed for reliable race training at the start of the season, which was rarely available previously on natural snow trails only.
On the alpine side, the season will begin on December 29 with a race at Oak Mountain. There are 15 boys and 15 girls teams with an eight-event schedule leading to the Section II and State Championships, both held at Gore Mountain.
On the girls’ side, Meredith Montgomery junior of Queensbury is the early season favorite for individual honors. She was second in the league championship last year behind Avery Waters of Saratoga Springs, who graduated. Other main contenders include Shenendehowa junior Micaela Leonard and defending team champion Ballston Spa junior Mallory Czimbal.
On the boys’ side, the early season favorite is Saratoga Springs with defending champion Matthew Moeckel, who led the Section II field in slalom and giant slalom last winter. Senior Nathan Rodrigues gives the Blue Streaks a solid double. Others should show up well this winter, including Braden Kruk Sr. of Shenendehowa, Jeff Long Sr. of Schuylerville, Colin Cotter Jr. of Broadalbin-Perth and Second-year Neil Howard of Taconic Hills.
A dark horse this winter could be Queensbury eighth-grader Hudson Montgomery. Along with her sister Meredith, one of the current top contenders in Section II, Hudson’s older sister Maddie and brother Hunter, both now in college, are former Section II champions. If Hudson could win a championship this season, he would be the first high school student to win a regional title since Shenendehowa’s Courtney Strait in the 1990s.
Alpine competitors benefit from strong racing programs in the region under the direction of the New York Ski Education Foundation at Gore, and at West Mountain and Willard. These combined programs register some 300 young runners aged 7 to 18, many of whom fill out the team rosters in Section II.
The Section II Nordic and Alpine Running Championships will be held at Gore Mountain in mid-February. The State Championships will also be held in Gore from February 28 to March 1.
One of the major figures of cross-country skiing in our region has passed away.
George Heim, a native of Albany and a retired naval officer, purchased the Garnet Hill Lodge and Ski Touring Center in 1977 and expanded it into one of the region’s premier Nordic centers. He has been a strong supporter of cross-country skiing and tourism in the region for over 20 years. He was the representative of the Gore region on the board of directors of the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority from 1997 to 2002.
He was 87 years old.
France-based all-inclusive resort operator Club Med has opened a resort in Le Massif, the ski area along the St. Lawrence River east of Quebec City.
Known primarily for its hot resorts, Club Med has also operated ski resorts in Europe for many years. There had been previous efforts to offer winter programs in North America, but the last one in Crested Butte, Colorado, closed in 2006.
The new Club is located at the foot of the Massif ski area. Guests receive not only full resort accommodation – including all meals – but also ski equipment and guides, as well as all related services. The Club, the only one currently in North America, opened on December 3.
I’ve written about this in the past, but it bears repeating: beware of drowsy driving.
While not just skiers, it can be a particularly dangerous situation at this time of year for people who have spent the day outside in the cold and often heat the car at the start of the trek. return. The situation is even more confused when the return home arrives at a time when the daylight is fading. I know from experience.
Once you recognize the danger, there are obvious steps you can take.
Don’t drive alone. Leave a window open a bit for some fresh air. Turn up the volume.
My practice is always to stop off on the way home, whether or not I’m feeling tired, no matter how far I have to go. This allows you to get out of the car, get some fresh air, maybe cool off, and then continue on the road.
It doesn’t take long but in my opinion it adds a lot to a safe ride home.
Contact Phil Johnson at [emailÂ protected]
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Categories: High school sports, Sports