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Prep Alpine skiing: Competitors on the mountain, local downhill programs build a community off the slopes

Duluth East’s program is on top right now, but Greyhound parents have stepped up to help build other area programs.

Skier makes a turn.
Duluth East’s Wyatt Shultz makes his first run at the Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, race at Mont du Lac. He won the boys’ event.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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SUPERIOR — Wyatt Shultz was still catching his breath after his second run during the Martin Luther King Day Race Monday at Mont du Lac Resort.

The Duluth East senior was in the lead after his first run, but something caught his eye before checking his time to see if he was still in contention.

“This kid’s ripping it right here,” Shultz said as he watched one of his competitors from the Cook County/Silver Bay team make their second run.

Shultz ended up hanging on to first place and the Greyhounds took the top three spots for a team win. Duluth East is looking to take the section title for the second consecutive year, but the CCSB team is looking to claim the top spot for themselves.

Despite a budding rivalry, at many meets the teams are encouraging their competitors and cheering solid runs.

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“They have friendly rivalry for sure — all these skiers do — but I’ve never seen it get ugly or nasty,” CCSB coach John Oberholtzer said. “Some of these kids have been skiing together since they were five and six years old, so it's kind of cool that way, and the coaches are real friendly too. It’s got a good, community vibe, for sure, that way. In fact, you see teams supporting each other, even skiers from other teams.”

Duluth East coaches Andrea Hendricks, Joe Maccor and Jeff Zauhar also serve as coaches at Duluth Denfeld. What’s more, many of the local schools have connections between programs.

Skier rounds a gate.
Denfeld’s Margaret Duncan skis through a gate at the Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, meet at Mont du Lac. She won the girls’ race.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Hendricks said many racers know each other trom the Northland Junior Race Series with Team Duluth based at Spirit Mountain and another team at Mont du Lac.

“They’ve gotten to know many of the other ski racers, so it makes it really fun coming together,” Hendricks said. “They may have skied together for Team Duluth when they were younger and now they’re on separate high school teams, but they’re all still friends.”

The Greyhounds are at the top of the section, but it hasn’t been long since Hermantown’s Austin Danelski dominated the section and won a state title in 2018 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

Hermantown and Duluth Marshall have both fielded smaller teams in past years, but parents of Duluth East skiers have volunteered to step in to help.

Amy Carlson, mother of top Greyhound Lauren Carlson, stepped in to coach Duluth Marshall and Steve Arnold, father of another fast Duluth East skier Mia Arnold, is an assistant for Proctor/Hermantown.

Coach Carlson said she started coaching “for the future of ski racing.”

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Skier makes a turn.
Marshall’s Weston Heeren makes his first run at the Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, race at Mont du Lac.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

“Ski racing is one of the few sports where any kid can do it,” coach Carlson said. “They don’t have to have skied in a club, they can decide as a seventh grader or a ninth grader, ‘Hey, I want to try ski racing,’ and we can make them ski racers. We train a couple nights a week, do lots of dry land training to get in shape and talk about nutrition, those kinds of things.”

Coach Arnold said he volunteered because having more quality programs will lift the level of competition for the region.

“If they are a good team over there, it makes this team better over here,” he said. “Plus, I’m at the races anyway, so why not.”

Shultz said while Minnesota might not have the epic mountains like those in Colorado and Utah, but the conditions are the perfect training ground for ski racing. Former Olympic champion Lindsay Vonn is from Minnesota as well as current U.S. Ski Team members Paula Moltzan and Isaiah Nelson.

“We’re in Minnesota snow,” Shultz said. “We don’t get a lot of snow, we’re on ice or hardpack groomers. Racing is the perfect thing to do on snow like that, some of the best skiers in the world have come from the Midwest. We produce some of the best skiers because we have fantastic clubs that care about it and the snow is fantastic. There’s nothing like the feeling of ripping it down the course and the improvement you can make — it’s just exhilarating.”

Skier races around a gate.
Hermantown’s Annabel Hanson makes her first run at the Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, race at Mont du Lac.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Skier races around a gate.
Denfeld’s Gus Schauer makes his first run at the Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, race at Mont du Lac.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Skier races down the hill.
Hermantown’s Toby Schunk makes his first run at the Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, race at Mont du Lac.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Skier makes a turn.
Duluth East’s Lauren Carlson makes her first run at the Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, race at Mont du Lac.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Related Topics: DULUTH DENFELD HIGH SCHOOLDULUTH EAST HIGH SCHOOLPROCTORHERMANTOWNALPINE SKIINGMARSHALL SCHOOLPREP SPORTS
Jamey Malcomb has been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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