Ski season is picking up in Colorado, but not for the state’s high school athletes.
Because of the global pandemic, the prep season has been pushed back to late January, forcing the state’s high school skiers to start the season around the time when they would be preparing for the home stretch in a normal year. Like the other winter sports that are now having to prepare quickly for shortened campaigns, Colorado’s ski teams will have to do the same.
Skiing, however, is the only high school sport that takes place on the side of a mountain. And while starting the season during the snowier months, the powdery conditions that Colorado’s recreational skiers look forward to aren’t ideal for the downhill racers.
“Historically, March is actually Colorado’s snowiest month and February comes in second,” Nederland alpine coach Seth Waldman said. “This could present difficulties, though contrary it might seem, because fresh snow is not good for training or racing. A firm, hard-packed and icy surface is what we’re looking for. Soft snow is downright dangerous for alpine ski racing.
“To combat soft snow at race events, course officials may actually hose-down, or ‘inject’ water into the snow to create a harder, icier surface.”
Season B sports can begin practicing on Jan. 18 and the first day of official competition is scheduled for Jan. 25. Assuming the season can be completed, the state skiing championships will be completed by March 13.
“The late start is definitely inhibiting our preseason training, taking away much of our athletes’ time spent learning and skills building prior to the regular season and races,” Waldman said.
While the format for this year’s state championships will be similar to finals of years past, the primary differences will be the number of allowable racers, qualification process and potentially spread out schedules and locations, all of which will be determined by the county where the race takes place, the ski resort venue or venues, and Colorado High School Athletic Association guidelines. There will also be stringent limits on contact between skiers, including no awards ceremony or banquet.
“Current plans have us looking at a maximum of 75 girls and 75 boys being allowed to compete at state, accounting for a greater than 30-percent drop in participants,” Waldman said. “This is the greatest impact, as each team has a predetermined limit to the number of athletes who may attend state based on each team’s past performance. Nederland’s numbers are reduced by approximately 25 percent, roughly concurrent with other high schools.”