After winning the state title in freestyle skiing last month, the Hood River Valley freestyle ski team intends to turn itself into a dominant force in the sport, which is still gaining traction at the high school level in Oregon.
"We have a great group of kids who made the best of some really challenging conditions," said coach Justin Wiley.
HRV race team coach Peter Nance and Wiley worked to build up the freestyle team this season, with freestylers often competing in both disciplines.
That made for some long weekends with freestyle competitions on Friday afternoons and racing on Saturday mornings.
Even with all the hard work Wiley said he saw the team growing from last year to this not just in Hood River Valley but at other schools as well.
HRV helped to get an organized freestyle league going this season, the Columbia Gorge League.
That led to a more organized state competition, held during the ski racing championships last month in Bend, and that led to the Eagles winning the state title.
Nance said he has seen tremendous growth in the sport in some of the schools who compete in the Mt. Hood Ski racing league, and hopes that the growth will pay off in continued interest in both ski racing and freestyle skiing with athletes proving they can compete in both.
The Eagles had numerous two-way athletes out this season, like Tanner Boudreau and Kirra Paulus, who made their marks in both disciplines at state.
"I give Peter all the credit for helping to legitimize it," Wiley said. "He's got it much more recognized."
Brendan Kerr and Hannah Hurley won individual titles at the state championship while the Eagles easily claimed the overall title.
Six boys teams competed on the boys side, all from Portland and the Gorge, with HRV crushing the closest competition with 154 overall points.
The Eagles did the same on the girls side with three teams competing, scoring 116.10 points.
While the Eagles are happy with their title, they want to be able to do it against more competition in the future, and Wiley thinks that is going to happen.
"It would be great to have more teams," he said. "Even just in this year we've had significantly more interest."
For now, though, Wiley is proud of the work that his team put in and believes that as it grows the members of this team can look back and see themselves as having started a winning tradition that will lead to bigger and better things for the HRV team and the sport at a high school level across Oregon.
"As long as the kids are having fun and making memories I'm happy," he said. "That's what's important."