Deep in talent, this year’s Hood River Valley High School ski team has high expectations for the season. As combined defending state freestyle champions and runners-up for racing, the team of 35 boys and girls is busy getting in shape and training for what is expected to be an exciting season for the Eagles.
Coach Scott Keillor, in his second year with HRV, says the athleticism, racing experience and upcoming talent the team has combines for a very promising season.
“We’re blessed with a lot of great athletes in Hood River,” Keillor said this week. “It’s hard to name individuals when we have so many great skiers on the team this year. Our captains are Ryan Colesar and Molly Clarke for boys and girls race teams and Hannah Hurley and Brendan Kerr for the freestyle teams.”
Keillor stresses that although freestyle is now a separate sanctioned division of high school skiing, for HRV they’re all one team.
“We encourage everyone to do both,” he said. “Racers don’t have to cross over if they don’t want to, but we require freestyle skiers to do at least two downhill races a season. Once they are juniors and seniors we let them specialize only in freestyle if they want, but we encourage everyone to do both.”
Keillor said numbers this year are up from last season, with a large group of young skiers interested in freestyle competition. He also said there are a good number of downhill racers feeding into the high school program with solid club experience, which is adding to the team’s prowess.
To prepare for the 11-race season, athletes have been dry-land training for the last several weeks with ski-specific exercises and strength training. The team won’t start official on-slope practices until after the Christmas break, in time to get a quick tune-up before the first race of the season on Jan. 5.
“To supplement dry-land training we also had a few sessions of athleticism training at Windells Academy,” Keillor said. “We’ll have a late holiday camp Jan. 2-4 and then it’s the Cato Race the next day.
“We have a great group of kids that are supported by an experienced coaching staff; we’re looking forward to a great season.”