MT. HOOD MEADOWS — State may still be one month away, but the HRV ski teams have already found their groove.
After only three races, winning the Mt. Hood Conference title may already be a forgone conclusion — at least for the girls.
Led by Lindsay McClure, the girls team raced to its third consecutive win Saturday, taking three of the top four places to beat Sandy by 19 seconds and Barlow by more than 30 seconds.
“No one is even close to my girls right now,” coach Jon Copper said. “They may be challenged at the state level, but they’re already beginning to reach their peak.”
McClure took first with a combined time of 1:29.01, while Jodie Gates finished second (1:31.44) and Candice Hoag fourth overall (1:34.85) in a race HRV dominated from top to bottom, both on the hill and in the standings.
Shanna Cochran took eighth (1:43.52), Lauren Emmerson ninth 1:44.76) and Aileen Herlitz 22nd (2:04.93) to round out the Eagle varsity results.
“We’re now in tactic mode as opposed to technique mode,” Copper said. “Even though we have a number of races left to go, the girls are now building for state.
“They don’t even have to think. Now they’re just skiing,” he said.
The boys also showed why they could be a major factor at state, matching the girls with three of the top four places Saturday to win its second consecutive race by the slimmest of margins — two tenths of a second over Sandy.
Justin Wiley set the pace with a blazing combined time of 1:21.92, while teammate Luke McCarthy took second with an equally impressive time of 1:24.00.
Marc Reed finished fourth (1:25.19), Luke Pennington ninth (1:31.81), Alec Asbridge 11th (1:37.59), and Geordie Oates 22nd (1:45.85) to round out the Eagle varsity times.
“The competition in the boys league is so close this year,” Copper said. “Our guys are skiing a lot smarter (than the first race) and will be competitive at state.”
Copper explained that because the boys team did not earn a team time in the season’s first race on Jan. 12, it would be very difficult for the team to win the league title. Both Barlow and Sandy would have to suffer a similar fate to give the Eagles an opening.
“Zero points the first race really hurts,” Copper said. “The other teams can play it safe because they know all they have to do is finish.
“But I know the other coaches and they are all here to win each race. We all take risks. If you take a risk and crash, that’s just the way it goes,” he said.