It's a good bet there won't be any Croatian Olympians in Megan Danelski's way at the Section 7 high school girls Alpine skiing meet today.
The Hermantown junior competed at the Atmore Memorial races at Spirit Mountain over the weekend, finishing closely behind a pair of experienced European skiers. Her top competitors for the section meet aren't as far away.
Danelski, Olivia Tusa and Madison Danelski, Megan's 14-year-old sister, gave the Hermantown-Proctor team a 1-2-3 sweep at last year's meet and could do so again today at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
"We should do the same this year, hopefully," Megan Danelski said. "I've done well in all my high school races this year and all my races across the Midwest. I feel confident that I could do well at the section meet."
The elder Danelski placed third at the 2011 state meet, also held at Giants Ridge, and since the top two finishers graduated, she figures to be one of the favorites statewide.
"I like being in that position," she said.
The main reason behind the trio's success is racing on the United States Ski Association/FIS tour. They travel to Colorado, Michigan and Wisconsin, among other states, to compete against the best girls from their age groups. In this case, the competition might come from within.
"We push each other; it's our goal to be top three again," said Tusa, a senior. "There's a little competition among us who is going to get which place."
Megan said her sister is quickly catching up to her.
"We're good competitors because we have the same drive to do well," she said. "We help each other do our best and give each other tips. She's right on my tail."
Megan Danelski will be among the first group of skiers going down the hill this morning -- the second run is slated for the afternoon -- so it's vital to put a good run when the hill is at its iciest.
"The snow is nice in the morning," she said. "It's really important to have your first run be solid because of the (deteriorating) snow conditions."
Tusa said the warmer-than-normal winter has made for inconsistent snow conditions.
"You go from it being really cold to warm and having it go from being frozen over to slush," she said. "Hopefully it gets cold again, but I don't think that's going to happen."
Hermantown-Proctor's chances of advancing as a team are more precarious than its individuals. The best times of the top four skiers are factored into the team results, and Hermantown-Proctor only has four to choose among with eighth-grader McKenzie Bremel joining Tusa and the Danelskis.
"We have some challenges in front of us if all the girls don't put two (quality) runs together," coach Michaela Borash said. "If that happens, we definitely have a chance to go to state like last year. If we don't, our chances are minimal."