The last time Scarsdale’s boys won the Section 1 title in skiing was the winter of 2004-05. This winter, the boys are ready to make a serious run at winning the fifth title in school history. Their reward would be a trip to the New York State Championships.
While the Raiders have already beaten powerhouse North Salem/John Jay twice, they still have another rival, Mamaroneck, on Jan. 29, to make a statement against. Then they would need to put together a perfect four-man race at sectionals in order to return to the top of the mountain for the first time in over a decade.
It was an exhausting first week of competition last week with three races in four days at Thunder Ridge, but the Raiders got in all of their meets and are caught up with their schedule after a long vacation and a warm start to January.
The boys are 12-0, with notable wins against North Salem/John Jay by scores of 149.68-150.3 and 159.15-163.34.
“We won against North Salem by less than a second on Tuesday night,” coach Pat Liu said. “It was our biggest race of the season, so we’ve got a shot at winning the team sectional for boys. It means we’ll be competitive at sectionals and if our top three or four guys win we have a chance of going to states as a team.”
The boys are led by seniors Jared Blinken, John Lloyd and Harry Liu, sophomore Hayden Claussen, senior Spencer Mann and freshman Jeremy Mann. Among that group are two sets of brothers (Liu and Claussen are the other sibling duo). Blinken, Lloyd and Spencer Mann are team captains.
“We’ve got a deep, strong team,” Coach Liu said. “I’ve ben waiting for this year. We did lose Alex Coeytaux. He was probably going to be five or six with Hayden as a sophomore. I think he is going to return next year.”
The Raiders have been rebuilding the program the last four years with more and more USSA weekend warriors, which is similar to the program when it won four Section 1 titles from 1990-2005 (the girls won eight from 1988-2000).
“A lot of the kids on our team, particularly varsity skiers, they ski race mountains outside the high school and practice outside of high school,” Lloyd said. “The boys are competitive and passionate for the sport. Jared and I train often on weekends. He goes to Hunter, I go to Jiminy Peak. It’s just a matter of getting hours in training.”
Lloyd said the Raiders snuck up on the competition after the last few years going “quite unnoticed.”
“When I started it was Horace Greeley and North Salem and now it’s North Salem and Mamaroneck,” he said of the dominant teams. “Beating North Salem was pleasant, but it was the first race of the season. We still have plenty more races against North Salem, including tonight. Both of our teams had good runs.”
The biggest lesson Blinken has learned over the years is that the best skiers — his own Raiders among them — often don’t make states and Easterns. In regular season races you only need to complete one of the two runs to log a time, whereas at sectionals one fall and you’re done.
“I see really good racers all the time at these high school races not really in the right mindset, so they mess up and do bad,” Blinken said. “That happens to me, too… We’re used to being really aggressive for meets and then we go to sectionals and fall. As long as we stay humble, put it down and let the skis do the talking at sectionals, take it easy, but not too easy, I think we’ll be fine.”
The 10-2 girls are also showing strength and depth, but couldn’t get past North Salem/John Jay, falling 130.83-135.72 and 131.64-145.91.
“I’m actually really impressed all the girls have come to all the races,” senior captain Connie Ferragu said. “Usually they don’t all come. They’re really all dedicated. We have six really strong skiers this year and since the top five count for all the races there’s always that one backup we can count on. It seems strong this year.”
Ferragu already has two wins under her belt and she was proud to see her team sweep the competition last Thursday. “We beat all the teams,” Ferragu said. “Usually we come in second or third, but yesterday we were first.”
A returning state and Easterns qualifier Ferragu leads the team followed by junior Leela Chari, junior Brooke Paykin and sophomore Caroline Cavalier.
“After Connie, Leela Chari is really stepping up,” Coach Liu said. “Leela was at Mount Snow and the others [Paykin and Cavalier] joined her. They’re having fun at the mountain, too, and the girls look up to Connie so much. She’s a great mentor for the girls.”
Other major contributors are senior captain Jaeda Dean and junior Pippi Seider, who is a two-time sectional qualifier.
“The team is the strongest ever since my freshman year,” Ferragu said. “It’s because we have all these seniors who all came in at the same time. We’ve all become really strong. I definitely think it has an impact on the team. Because we all care about the sport, we pass that on to the younger kids.”
It will be an uphill battle for the Scarsdale girls to win the section, but it’s one of the many goals Ferragu is chasing.
“I definitely want to make states and Easterns again, same as last year,” Ferragu said. “My goal is to be Skimeister for the section this year. For the girls I really want us to place well at sectionals. It might be hard for us to get first place, but I think maybe second place is attainable.
“I really want the boys to win this year as a team because I think they can. At this moment they’re undefeated. That would be great for Scarsdale for them to make states.”
The Raiders didn’t race this week, but they had two training sessions at Thunder Ridge to help them when they compete again next week. “It’s going to be more practice and our coaches are going to help us,” Ferragu said. “Today one of my coaches was on my course and gave me all these tips. He wrote them down so we can work on them next time we have practice.”
The good news for Liu and the Raiders is having two coaches replace former co-coach Darren Meyers. Joining this year are Jessica Anthony (formerly Matlick), who is a 1994 Scarsdale grad who used to compete for the Raiders and coaches at Hunter, and Carter Dorsett, who has recent racing experience. “Two amazing coaches,” Coach Liu said.
The Raiders were fortunate enough to get out to Catamount mid-December for tryouts and training. The week before last the Raiders got out to Thunder Ridge to give the course a test drive before last week’s trifecta.
“It’s a really big team this year with 49 kids,” Coach Liu said. “What’s really nice is they’re a really good bunch of kids. We have a lot of recreational skiers who want to be taught how to ski and it’s nice.”
Scarsdale Boys Skiing (12-0)
Roster: Seniors: Jared Blinken, Harry Liu, John Lloyd, Frederick Lowey, Spencer Mann, Derek Von Redden. Juniors: Wolf Cukier, Rishabh Gharekhan, Jeremy Schmelkin. Sophomores: Hayden Claussen, Daniel Coplan, Hudson Crane, Jackson Dean, T.J. DesChamps, Noah Jaffe, Tyler McCarthy, Jeffrey Morse, Will Silver, Haoye Tang, Cole Zoland. Freshmen: Brandon D’Agostino, James Fitzgerald, Nicholas Gettinger, Jeremy Mann.
SCARSDALE 149.68, NORTH SALEM/JOHN JAY 150.3, HORACE GREELEY 162.69, BLIND BROOK 206.83
Jan. 15 at Thunder Ridge
1) Luke Devey (North Salem) 25.47; 2) Jared Blinken 28.2; 3) John Lloyd 28.94; 6) Harry Liu 30.0; 8) Hayden Claussen 30.06; 12) Jeremy Mann 32.48; 14) Spencer Mann 32.62; 22) Rishabh Gharekan 39.22, 23) Wolf Cukier 39.7; 26) Derek Von Redden 41.6; 27) James Fitzgerald 43.26;
SCARSDALE 155.23, YORKTOWN 174.12, HEN HUD 777.77, FOX LANE 927.25, BREWSTER 2027.34, MAHOPAC 3069.17
Jan. 17 at Thunder Ridge
1) Blinken 29.43; 2) Lloyd 29.45; Liu 30.35; 8) Claussen 32.79; 9) Spencer Mann 33.21, 11) Jeremy Mann 34.21; 16) Cukier 37.77; 26) Gharekhan 53.04; 29) Jackson Dean DNF; t32) Jeremy Schmelkin DNF.
SCARSDALE 159.15, NORTH SALEM/JOHN JAY 163.34, CARMEL 186.52, BYRAM HILLS 210.1, BREWSTER 1199.69,
Jan. 18 at Thunder Ridge
1) Blinken 29.94; 3) Lloyd 30.15; 5) Liu 31.48; 7) Claussen 33.31; 12) Spencer Mann 34.27; 14) Jeremy Mann 35.02; 21) Cukier 40.66; 24) Gharekhan 42.71; 24) Von Redden 44.74; 26) Fitzgerald 47.52;
Scarsdale Girls Skiing (10-2)
Roster: Seniors: Jaeda Dean, Connie Ferragu, Josephine Lacoudre, Jackie Newman, Sofia Vittori. Juniors: Brooke Paykin, Elizabeth Seider. Sophomores: Anabel Calderon, Andrea Cardiel, Caroline Cavalier, Leela Chari, Ahri Choe, Charlotte Crowley, Victoire Lacoudre, Minori Nakazawa, Valentina Novaes, Jane Schmelkin, Grace Teuscher, Sarah Jane Traumer. Freshmen: Ilina Goyal, Mackenzie Harpster, Marie Lacoudre, Holden Meilman, Maya Silverstein, Sara Wong.
NORTH SALEM/JOHN JAY 130.83, SCARSDALE 135.72, HORACE GREELEY 144.33, BLIND BROOK 194.23
Jan. 15 at Thunder Ridge
1) Connie Ferragu 22.54; 8) Leela Chari 26.97; 10) Brooke Paykin 27.65; 13) Jaeda Dean 28.89; 14) Pippi Seider 29.67; 18) Caroline Cavalier 31.23; 21) Ahri Choe 35.48; 24) Jackie Newman 36.82; 25) Charlotte Crowley 38.92; 36) Jane Schmelkin DNF.
SCARSDALE 148.62, FOX LANE 173.57, BREWSTER 186.11, MAHOPAC 196.66, YORKTOWN 1146.99, HEN HUD 4043.98
Jan. 17 at Thunder Ridge
1) Ferragu 26.27; 7) Chari 29.05; 10) Paykin 30.3; 11) Dean 30.66; 15) Seider 32.34; 16) Cavalier 32.78; 18) Mackenzie Harpster 35.68; 21) Newman 38.11; 25) Choe 39.91; 28) Crowley 40.36.
NORTH SALEM /JOHN JAY 131.64, SCARSDALE 145.91, BREWSTER 181.71, CARMEL 184.76, BYRAM HILLS 2121.78,
Jan. 18 at Thunder Ridge
1) Ashley Binette (NS/JJ) 24.05; 4) Ferragu 25.77; 6) Chari 28.06; 8) Paykin 29.28; 13) Harpster 31.23; 15) Seider 31.57; 16) Cavalier 31.68; 23) Newman 37.87; 24) Crowley 37.89; 25) Schmelkin 38.26; 26) Choe 38.91.