It was about as good a start to the season as the Cody Alpine ski team could hope for, as the boys took first and the girls finished second in the Laramie Invite.
“If there ever is a team that can compete with and beat Jackson, this might be it,” coach Rick Stonehouse said.
The Broncs finished with 60 total points after Thursday and Friday, besting second-place Kelly Walsh at 32 points.
Jackson edged Cody by only 10 in the girls competition.
David Reed led the Broncs with a second place finish in slalom and third in giant slalom. It was a personal best for Reed in both disciplines. He was the comeback kid in both races, notching the fastest second run in slalom and second-fastest second run in GS.
“I knew I was feeling pretty good going into the season, but I didn’t really expect that,” he said.
Reed credited the team’s success to the rock-hard early season conditions Cody has been dealing with the past month while training at Red Lodge Mountain.
In contrast, the course conditions at Snowy Range Ski Area were relatively softer, with a little fresh snow blanketing the course during the week. After more than a month of grinding their edges into the hardpack to make turns, the Broncs and Fillies cut their skis into the course easily.
“We absolutely always want snow, but the fact is that was really good snow for training purposes,” Stonehouse said.
Taylor Dye led the Fillies in slalom on Friday with a sixth-place finish, while Aspen Kalkowski had the top girls finish of the weekend with a fourth in GS on Thursday.
It was a personal best for Kalkowski who credited some of her success to getting a pair of GS skis for this season, after using slalom skis for that discipline last year.
“They’ve helped me carve really well and get the hang of GS better,” Kalkowski said.
The Fillies placed four skiers in the GS top 10.
Just .43 seconds behind Kalkowski was Nicole Wagler in fifth. Dye took eighth and Catherine Lovera ninth. In slalom the results were similar, with Kalkowski finishing seventh, Lovera eighth and Wagler ninth.
“We’ve got four new freshmen and they’re all studs, and all of us who competed last year, I think we just got the hang of it,” Kalkowski said.
The Broncs had their best race in slalom, also placing four in the top-10. Behind Reed, Jasper Crofts took sixth, Ryan Decker seventh, and James Davis eighth.
It was a personal best and breakthrough finish for Crofts, who dealt with a number of untimely falls and recurring binding issues last season.
“When we saw him training this year, we said he might be the one to beat,” Stonehouse said.
Not only did Crofts not fall during the two days of races, but neither did the entire Cody Alpine team – the first time Stonehouse could remember such a feat being accomplished.
“Everybody scored every single race,” Stonehouse said. “That’s something that isn’t a fluke.”
While the Broncs were happy to finish first, they know competition is coming, as the fourth-place Jackson boys were missing their top three skiers due to COVID-19 related issues.
“It was a skeleton version of what we’ll see from them later this year,” Stonehouse said. “Jackson isn’t going to be finishing fourth at many more races.
“But no matter what they bring, our guys and girls are going to compete with them.”
Dye and Stonehouse said the next step in their development will be to work on skiing less conservatively.
“Just to be focusing on instead of not falling, getting faster,” Dye said.
The Broncs and Fillies will have a week off before competing at the Casper Kelly Walsh Invite on Jan. 22-23.