The Cody Alpine ski team will look to reload this season with a few key parts left over from last year’s squad, along a few new spark plugs.
The team lost eight seniors from last year but will return a few varsity skiers and four seniors with strong experience and abilities. And what the team may lack experience they will make up for with overall numbers. Coach Rick Stonehouse said Cody has at least 34 members signed up right now, the highest total he can remember since becoming coach and three more than last year.
The boys team, which finished second at state, will be led by junior James Davis. Davis had a top-15 performance in giant slalom at state as well as a sixth place finish in GS at the Pinedale Invitational. He’ll look to build on that performance this year with more consistency in slalom.
“My goal is to finish top 12 in state,” Davis said.
Joining him will be returners David Reed, Garret Kalkowski, Maddox Growney and Gus Mahieu, who were top finishers on the junior varsity squad last season.
“The boys team is pretty solid,” Stonehouse said. “The depth will help.”
The girls team will return two-time All-State performer Nicole Wagler for her junior season. After a breakout freshman year, Wagler had a solid sophomore campaign, although she didn’t feel it was her best.
“My goal is to do better than last season,” Wagler said.
Last season, Wagler was seventh in the state for total points, a finish earning her second-team All-State, after a first-team finish her freshman year.
But besides Wagler the girls team, which finished third at state, did lose a lot, with five top scorers graduating in the spring. One answer could come from freshman McKinley Ross, who has extensive experience racing with the Silver Run club ski team based out of Red Lodge Mountain.
“I’ve been skiing for a really long time,” Ross said, “but it’ll be nice to ski race for my school.”
Two other Silver Run members are also on this year’s team.
Alaina Gross, a student at Buffalo, will race for the Fillies since her school doesn’t have a team. Her brother Garret Gross was a varsity member of the ski team two seasons ago. She will be joined by Powell skiers Jacob Heib and Asher Aguirreto to make up the out-of-town contingency on the team.
“Sometimes a newcomer will come along and surprise you,” Stonehouse said.
The classic debate in Alpine skiing is slalom vs. giant slalom. Slalom involves making shorter turns in between vertical poles scattered over the race hill. GS is more spread out and requires turning passed cloth gates in the snow.
“I’m better at GS, but I prefer slalom,” Reed said. “I don’t know, I just like it more.”
With a strong start to the season the Alpine team has already been able to hit the slopes for on-snow training at Red Lodge, their home mountain where they spend each Friday and Saturday of the season practicing.
During the week is dryland training in Cody, which can involve weight training, performing aerobic drills and running through slalom gates pushed into the grass.
“It’s good for getting their physical stamina up and helps get them some mental practice,” Stonehouse said.
The Broncs and Fillies will carve into action for their first meet Jan. 10-11 at Snowy Range Resort outside Laramie. Cody’s lone home meet will come Feb. 7-8 at Red Lodge.