FRAMINGHAM – Tonight, January 11, is the season opener for the Framingham High co-ed alpine ski team. The 16-member team will race two giant slalom races at Ski Ward in y at 7 p.m. Flyers head coach Roni Sue Bower can only race eight girls and eight boys per meet.
“We don’t have tryouts,” said Bower. ” You need to know how to ski and I can teach you how to race.”
The team has been training since just after Thanksgiving.
“We practice on snow twice a week, and race on the third day of the week. Time and hill space is limited due to the number of ski areas versus the number of teams and racers. We compete against 11 other teams that are vying for space on one trail, two days a week. I believe it is a benefit for us, when 4 or 5 teams are training together. It is a learning experience, watching and listening to others, who have experience racing,” said Bower.
The team is not officially a varsity sport at Framingham High, but does compete on a varsity meet schedule in the Mass Bay Ski League East.
There are four senior captains this 2017-18 ski season. They are Jacklyn Keane, Sam Abramson, Michael Horblit, and Ben Westervelt. All are 4-year members of the alpine ski team.
“Their race level and success varies. They bring different experiences to the team,” said Bower. “The one thing that is consistantly the same is their passion for skiing. ”
Keane has been the leading scorer for the Flyers, and has qualified for the state meet twice, said Bower.
“She injured her knee during her sophomore ski season and has aggressively come back. She is an excellent role model,” said Bower. She proves that “hard work and focus” pays off.
“Michael, Ben, and Sam work hard every practice. They always give their best effort each and every run. They have improved immensely each year. They will meet or exceed their goals this season,” said Bower.
Junior Ben Fortin and sophomore Andrew Keane are expected to be strong racers for the Flyers this season.
“They both had incredible seasons last year, finishing in 27th and 33rd place respectively,” said Bower. The top 24 skiers male and female qualify for the state meet.
“If they can be aggressive, stay on their feet, and ski fast they will earn the points they need to move forward,” said Bower.
The skiers compete in both slalom and giant slalom eents.
Slalom is the shorter of the two ski runs with quick turns.
Giant slalom has wider turns than slalom runs, with the gates farther apart.
“Most love the speed the giant slalom course offers,” said Bower. “Racers want to take a higher line to make a carving turn and finish faster through the finish. ”
She said “success on this (Ski Ward) course will be to take a straighter line as the slope is not as steep, and you will need to do everything you can to maintain or gain speed.”
Bower said many of the Flyers have had success at Ski Ward.
Framingham competes in the Mass Bay Ski League East, against 11 other teams at each race.
Roughly, 100 girls and 100 boys will race down the hill tonight to see who is the fastest.
“The first race sets the tone for the rest of the season,” said Bower.
“I am very excited about our first meet. I feel good about the way we are skiing and how we performed in the gates Monday night,” said Bower on Tuesday. “Everyone felt good. It was the first time for four of our racers on a race course, and after their first run, they were pleased that it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.”
“It is challenging, and you could tell they wanted to tackle the course all night,” said Bower about Monday night’s practice.
“All ski racers love speed. They are going to need it Thursday night,” said Bower.
And like every season, how the skiers perform will depend a little on Mother Nature. The team’s second practice was cancelled due to the storm last week.
The weather has not always be kind to Bower and the alpine ski team. One season there was almost no snow and another season was filled with fog and wet conditions.
Mother Nature gave the area more than a foot of snow last week, but as the season opener is upon the team, she is looking to bring warm temperatures and rain. Conditions may not be ideal tonight, but the meet is still.
The weather for our season is typical New England winter, said Bower.