Waiting for the lights...

November 23, 2005

After last winter’s famously dismal snow conditions, the Hood River Valley High School ski team is working hard and waiting patiently for its dry-land training to move to the night-lighted slopes of Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort.

“We’re very antsy,” said Coach Jessica Gunesch, who grew up racing with the Mt. Hood Academy. “Last year was so bad that this year we can’t wait to get on the hill. This might be the first year in a while to be up there at night before Christmas.”

Until night skiing opens at Meadows, the team of 10 girls and 8 boys is focusing on dry-land strength and agility training. With the biggest crew in years, including four seniors, Gunesch is optimistic about the team and its potential for the season.

“For the girls, we’re aiming to win districts,” Gunesch said. “For the boys, we’re hoping be in the top three at districts and go to state.”

This season, the Eagles’ district includes teams from The Dalles, Sandy, Gresham, Barlow, St. Mary’s and Grant high schools. Their meets are on Saturdays, starting with the season’s first race — the Kato Memorial — at Timberline on Jan. 7. This season the Eagles will host the state races at Mt. Hood Ski Bowl.

A number of skiers are expected to compete well this winter, including seniors Jessica McMorran and Tony Guisto, who are the team’s only two four-year skiers.

“It’s been really fun so far,” Gunesh said about the opening weeks of practice. “The team is working hard every day and we’re all excited to get on the hill and race as a team.”

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