Ryan Casey ( For the Daily Camera
Nederland skier Emily Creek, a student at Niwot, won the girls slalom last year as a freshman competitor for the Panthers ski team. She will be aiming to defend that title, as well as shoot for the giant slalom crown, in 2019.

NEDERLAND — When she won the slalom as a freshman at state last winter season, Emily Creek became the Nederland High ski team’s first individual state champion since Sophie De Fries won the slalom in 2015.

It was an auspicious way to cap her first season of high school ski racing but Creek, who is a student at Niwot, hasn’t spent the past year sitting around recapping how much fun it was to win state. She has been preparing rigorously — even spending two weeks in Switzerland training with the Eldora ski racing team this summer — in the hope of recording even faster times and rising to new heights in her sophomore campaign.

With Creek a year older and poised to lead a promising Nederland ski team again in 2019, the Panthers impending season should be an interesting one to follow.

“I know there’s a lot of club racers that are coming into high school now so it’s going to be more of a challenge,” Creek said. “I’m still trying to win the slalom and even the GS (giant slalom), too, if I can. But I also think our team will be stronger this year because there are a lot of Eldora kids that are going to join the Nederland team, which is really exciting.”

The Nederland ski team comprises student-athletes from the Boulder Valley School District as well as a number from the nearby St. Vrain Valley School District. The Panthers girls team placed ninth at the state championships last season and the boys placed eighth.

For the upcoming season, the Panthers will have a pair of new coaches leading the way in Seth Waldman and Kim Sundermeyer.

“Everybody is super excited,” Waldman said. “We’ve got a huge team of about 50 athletes this year. We have a full range of ninth- through 12th-graders and a full range of racers who have been racing their entire lives to kids who will be racing for the first time this year.

“We’re working really hard this year on team unity and building leadership throughout our upperclassmen. Each of our athletes have their own individual goals and we expect to have a lot of racers in the state finals.”

For the past several years, Waldman has been an assistant coach with the district’s middle school team. Sundermeyer, who also teaches at Nevin Platt Middle School in the BVSD, brings a wealth of knowledge and Professional Ski Instructors of America certification to the table.

Technically, Waldman’s title is boys coach and Sundermeyer’s is girls coach. However, Waldman said they intend to approach the season as co-coaches and do not intend to split its time between boys and girls. Waldman added that he and Sundermeyer will emphasize sportsmanship on the hill, personal progress and fun.

This year’s Nederland team captains are Audrey De Fries (Boulder) and Arianna McCue (Boulder) for the girls team, and Talus Lantz (Boulder) and Reece Titus (Boulder) for the boys team. Lantz placed sixth in the slalom at state last year.

The Panthers’ first official competition of the season will be this Friday at Winter Park. They plan to have 21 girls and 16 competing in the season opener.

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