January 22, 2014
By Ellen Oliver
When asked about the spirit of a team, many athletes say their teammates are like family. For eight members of the 18-person Nashoba Alpine ski team, they actually are. The team has seven girls and 11 boys, including four sets of siblings.
“It’s fun because we all know each other and share the common interest of skiing,” said senior Flora Tierney, who shares the roster with her brother George, a junior. “A lot of kids have had an older brother or sister on the team and wanted to try it, too.”
After two races, both teams are in seventh place in the eight-team Omega Division. The girls’ team came in seventh in both races; earning 327 points in each race and the boys scored 302 after the first race and improved to 340 in the second, propelling themselves up the standings.
Senior captain Jenna Peabody is solid in her position as Nashoba’s top girl skier. Peabody placed third and fifth in the first two races of the season, both Giant Slalom. She’s ranked third overall in the league with 194 points, just six points off first place.
According to Coach Gormley, Tierney and sophomore Tess Anderson are improving with every practice and are coming up in the standings.
“Tess and Flora have been placing in the lower teens,” explained Gormley. “They’re coming on strong, so I expect to see them move up.”
On the boys’ team, sophomore Avery Colby is currently ranked as Nashoba’s highest scoring racer. “Avery’s coming on very strong,” said Gormley. “He works hard, trains hard.”
Following Colby is a pack of Nashoba skiers who are “right in the mix,” according to the coach. Junior Shawn Conlin, senior captain Drew Anderson (Tess’ brother), senior Luke Traverse (who has a sister, Alexandra on the team) and sophomore John Czekanski are all contributing in the competitive league. Coach Gormley said Czekanski, who just joined his brother Mike (also a sophomore) on the team this year, has made huge strides and has been a nice surprise for the team.
During the season, the skiers compete in two different race formats: Giant Slalom and Slalom. The first two races have been GS, but thanks to a rescheduled race, the team faces three Slalom races in over eight days. Gormley said the team will be able to squeeze in one practice of a Slalom course before the first race.
Tierney, like many of her teammates, prefers GS. “In GS, the gates are further apart; you ride it between the gates and have to ski aggressively. In Slalom, you have to think ahead more and plan your turns,” she explained.
When asked how she prepares for a race, Tierney said it’s not about who raced before or after her, it’s more about focusing on self-improvement. “You want to do your best and faster times are the way to do that, so you push yourself,” she said. “It’s not so much about beating a person; it’s more about beating a time.” Tierney explained further, “Time is a better comparison because of the conditions. When the course is fast, everyone is going to have faster times.”
Coach Gormley was been pleased with how quickly his skiers tapped into their speed and aggressiveness this season. The team practices technique on the slopes, but the coach wants to give his skiers as much time under race conditions as possible.
“Most of the kids who come to racing have a background in skiing, but might not have race experience,” said Gormley. “I’m happy to coach them
and give them a good experience. You see improvements when they’re hitting the gates. It means they’re running tighter lines.”
Key to transitioning skiers into racers is practice time under race conditions. “Gate time is important,” said the coach. “We weren’t on snow until after New Year. There are only so many opportunities we have to practice being in the gate. They’re skiing more aggressively.”
When his racers aren’t under his direction, Gormley knows some of them snowboard and hit terrain parks, but he encourages them to spend some time on skis and use the opportunity to practice their racing skills.
“Many kids go straight down, going for speed. I ask them to make a lot of turns. The more they can carve their turns, the better they will do in races,” said the coach.
After the short season (the teams race six times), the final standings are calculated by the best four scores. The top 16 boys and girls qualify for states, with four alternates selected as well.
For more pictures of the Nashoba Alpine Ski team and other Nashoba sports, please see: http://daisydesignphotos.exposuremanager.com/g/nashoba_sports