Berlin High School Ski TeamThe Berlin High School ski team will open up their season this morning when they host their first race at Wildcat, taking to the slopes against new faces Gilford, Bow, Bishop Brady, Newfound, Belmont, and Kearsage.
“That first day at the race gate is pretty nerve racking,” said Berlin coach Dave Roy. “I will have a better idea where we are at then.”
The boys and girls will compete in a newly reformed Division III, competing with Belmont, Bishop Brady, Fall Mountain, Gilford, Hillsboro, Kearsage, Newfound, Stevens, St. Thomas, Trinity, and White Mountain.
It will mark the first time in recent years that the Mounties and Huskies will not go head-to-head in the state meet. The Huskies will compete in Division IV this fall.
“Everything has switched this year,” said Roy. “The divisions seem to be divided by school size instead of geography.”
On the girls team, Roy has just five skiers that will hit the slopes this winter in meets; junior captain Anne Ritchie, sophomores Alexa Lopez, Beth Ayer, and Kim Gallant, and freshman Elizabeth Helms. With each team needing four people to score points, the lady Mounties will need to be cautious on the slopes while trying to achieve a good time.
“It’s going to be real important that they stand up,” said Roy. “Fortunately, they all stood up in every race last year. We had no margin of error. On a icy day, if two people go down, we are in trouble.”
Roy said that Ritchie and Lopez will return the most experience and have looked good in the early going.
“I’m hoping they will be the ones out front and scoring points for us,” Roy said.
On the boys side, Roy will have returning point scorers Brian Gagnon, Sean Frennette, and Jan Gagnon.
“They scored points for us last year,” said Roy of Gagnon, Frenette, and Gagnon. “As a hole the team is young.”
The boys will not suite up a single senior for the Alpine season. Teammates Danny Lafrancois, Scott Gilbert, Travis Laflamme, Sam Eames, and Calvin Vailancourt round out the Berlin eight man roster.
The Berlin skiers have had mother nature finally agree with the sport as the Mounties have been on the Wildcat slopes since December 1.
“It’s been great,” said Roy of his team getting on the mountain earlier than last year. “We need to get the needed work in early because there is no feeder system to our program.”
After hosting today’s meet, the Mounties will compete at Gunstock, Bretton Woods, and Wildcat again before the boys race at Gunstock for the state meet and the girls compete at Mt. Sunapee for the state meet two days later.
“These races are like tune-up races for the states,” said Roy of the regular season meets.
Of those meets, Roy said the ones held at Wildcat are the ones close to the hearts of his skiers.
“In many of the other sports it is easy for parents to watch,” said Roy. “When we travel it is tough to make it, but when it is right here at Wildcat is becomes handy.”
As for the team’s spirit sand dedication to the sport in the early going, Roy said he likes what he has seen so far.
“The unity of the team so far is real good,” said Roy. “They always come ready to roll for practices and their thoughts are together.”
With a new division and many new foes to take on, on the slopes, Roy said he is not sure where the Mounties will stand come the state meet, but he is just hoping to just see improvement at each race.
“The goals for this team are pretty simple,” said Roy. “We just want to improve from one race to the next.”
•2003 Boys and Girls Schedule
Jan. 3 - Wildcat 9:30 a.m. (Berlin)
Jan. 10 - Gunstock 9:30 a.m. (Gilford)
Jan. 17 - Bretton Woods 9:30 a.m. (White Mountain)
Jan. 31 - Gunstock ( Belmont)
Feb. 7 - Wildcat (Berlin & Gorham)
Feb. 11 - Gunstock 9:30 a.m. (Boys State Meet)
Feb. 13 - Mt. Sunapee 9:30 a.m. (Girls State Meet)