The Edgemont High School ski team has been incredibly busy lately, competing in three races over four days to close out January as the regular season winds down.
Conditions were less than ideal for some of the races at Campgaw as the region continues to suffer — from a skier's perspective — from unseasonably warm temperatures every few days, resulting in slushy snow that freezes into ice when temperatures drop again.
The icy conditions, coupled with the fact that the slalom courses at Campgaw were set unusually tight, with not much time and space to make turns through the gates, posed a challenge even for some of the team’s most experienced racers.
Coach Dan Cherico missed some races due to a personal matter and not only was his superb guidance missed by his team, but also by other racers who have come to rely on him to make sure they are ready to race when their turn comes. Cherico is a key figure not only on race days for the entire Northern League, but also at practices, where he is often heavily involved in logistics.
In Cherico's absence, Edgemont’s five captains, Johanna Hunt, Haru Olesiak, Christopher Hunt, Gavin Stern and Ryan Stuzin, stepped in to provide leadership both on and off the snow and the team seemed to respond.
“I am really happy with the team dynamic,” Stern said. “Everyone seems excited to be here and the younger skiers and team veterans have really come together particularly well.”
A number of the team’s skiers have already qualified for sectionals, which will be held Feb. 10 at Hunter Mountain and more are eligible to qualify based on their performance in league races. The skiers who have already qualified are Kea Rutherford, Bella Rutherford and Johanna Hunt on the girls side, and Chris Hunt and Ryan Stuzin for the boys.
The team had two more races scheduled for this week at Campgaw to not only gear up for the postseason, but try to get more qualifiers and try to defend their league title from last winter.
The team is looking forward to another busy week of racing, with a slalom on Feb. 4 and a giant slalom on Feb. 5, at Campgaw. The team is confident heading into its final week of regular season racing and beyond, including into next season.
“I feel that everyone on the team has improved their racing skills this year and have lots of potential for the future,” Olesiak said.
The team's results are proving her right so far.