The start of Winter means the start of the competitive ski season

Students share their experience spending countless hours on the extreme sport

Paige Anderson, Staff Reporter
Originally published January 15, 2019

Fletcher Anderson and James Kerrigan

Fletcher Anderson and James Kerrigan

The arrival of winter brings many things: cold weather, the holidays, the sun setting at five o’clock. For some students, it also brings the start of the competitive ski season, which means long hours spent on the slopes outside of school.

Skiing takes years of practice to master, but competing requires a higher level of talent and expertise. At the speed which many competitive skiers fly down the mountain, cultivating good reflexes and a knowledge both of your body and the terrain is essential.

Sophomore Kendall Radford decided to take on this challenge when she was 10 years old by joining the Alpine Meadows competitive ski team when she lived in California. She first heard about it through her ski lessons that she took at the ski resort near Lake Tahoe.

Radford spent countless weekends and multiple winter breaks on the mountain, practicing for competitions. She was on the chairlift right when it started running in morning, and was on the mountain until it closed.

Unfortunately, Radford quit when she moved from California to Washington because she wasn’t familiar with any of the competitive teams in the area but said it was nice to have free time in her schedule.

Some people, however, are continuing the sport despite the intense training. Sophomore Connor Fatland is a part of the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association, an Olympic Freeride team in Stevens Pass, WA. Fatland started skiing when he was four years old and started doing it competitively when he was 11.

Fatland’s training starts Friday nights when he drives to Stevens Pass. From there he instructs classes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays he meets up with his team to work on their technique and ski terrain that will be in competitions.

“People normally just go ‘oh you’re a racer,’” Fatland said. “But there’s different stuff besides racing.”

Fatland specifically competes in big mountain skiing which is taking big turns on long, steep terrain and usually dropping off of cliffs. Most people believe that competitive skiing is just speeding down a mountain but that’s not the case. Freestyling, ski jumping, alpine skiing, cross country and biathlon are just a few of the different styles of competitive skiing.

Freshman Nick Mcnamara started competitive skiing when he was eight after being introduced to the sport by his ski school. Once a year the company would hold a race for the students to tryout the sport.

Mcnamara spent Wednesday nights, all of Saturday and all of Sunday on the mountain. Eventually he had to quit when he was 13 due to the intense commitment.

“Ski racing took up a lot of time during the weekend in the winter,” Mcnamara said. “There was a lot of preparation to training and I had to miss more school.”

Even though the hours and amount of stress that has to be put into the sport is exhausting and intense, no competitive skier would trade in their experience for anything.

“When you’re up at the starting gate and thinking about the whole course, it’s nerve- wracking,” Mcnamara said. “But it’s so much fun.”