Clear Creek ski team looking forward to another successful year on the slopes

-A A +A
By Alissa Noe

Clear Creek skiing has always been a beast on the mountain, but this year, the Golddiggers are looking to improve their standings as they prep for their upcoming season.

After Conradt Fredell stepped down as head coach earlier this year, Brian Inman is taking over the team. He’s got some lofty goals for his skiers in both the alpine and Nordic competitions as the season approaches.

“We’ve got some young talent and especially with our girls, we’ve got some older talent,” Inman said. “We’ve got some senior girls that have been with the program for four years, and they’ve actually been with the high school program for four years, but also with the middle school program.

“We’re really expecting to see some of those girls qualify for state. The boys, with Wes Davies, he placed in the Skimeister competition last year, and I know that his goal is to place even higher this year and possibly win the Skimeister.”

The Skimeister competition, which is separate from CHSAA, sees some of the best skiers from around the state take part in at least three alpine (downhill) races and three Nordic (cross country) races.

Should the Diggers stay strong this winter, they have a chance to send multiple athletes to the event. It’s become somewhat of a dynasty up on Floyd Hill, as the team has placed either a boy or a girl in the top five at the competition every year, sometimes both.

“It’s basically a true test of who is the most well-rounded skier in the state of Colorado,” Inman said. “It’s kind of a thing that sets Clear Creek apart from other schools.

“A lot of the other schools focus on either cross country skiing, or they focus on alpine. There’s no other schools like us that focus our kids on being Skimeisters. We’re hoping we have maybe even two or three girls in the top five and maybe a couple boys.”

With every skier on the team competing in every event — giant slalom and slalom for alpine, and skate and classic for Nordic — the Diggers have the upper hand in a lot of competitions.

After losing their senior class following a strong 2016 season, one would think the remaining athletes would have some work to do to keep up the excellence.

They don’t see it that way.

“We were very good for Clear Creek last year, I think, but there’s a lot of other kids that are coming in as well that are going to be good,” senior Angellina Inman explained.

Angellina said that while she’s generally stronger in her alpine races, she struggled last year due to nerves surrounding the possibility of falling and icy slopes. This year, she hopes to overcome those fears, so she can go all-out on those downhill runs.

Her teammate, senior Arete Koepsel, had a little more success last year and hopes to continue that into thi s winter. She, too, dealt with the nerves associated with a possible crash, something she hopes to overcome in her final year.

“Last year I did really good,” Koepsel said. “I got close to qualifying in both alpine events — I was only a few people off every race. And then Nordic, I did pretty good overall.

“I think at Skimeister, I was like seventh in the state or something. I think that this year, I definitely am prepared to be a little more fearless. I really do want to qualify this year, so I’m pushing for that.”

For the boys, a pair of juniors will pace the Golddiggers in Davies and Avery Schell. Much like the girls, Schell said he’s more comfortable with the alpine racing because he didn’t pick up Nordic until last year, but he believes he’ll have a better season on the cross country front.

“In (Nordic), you definitely have to have more stamina and endurance, but just from skiing my whole life, it wasn’t super hard to get the feel for it. You just have to be in good shape,” Schell said. “I’m stronger now and just more experienced. The more I race, the more I’ll get experience with just getting better and figuring it all out.”

Davies, who’s aiming to qualify for another Skimeister this year as well as state, said he’s looking forward to what he and the other team leaders can do, now that they’re in charge.

“The seniors last year seemed kind of insane, and maybe the seniors this year will also be insane, but who knows,” Davies said. “Last year, there were some who graduated that will definitely make life easier for ski team, so I’m pretty excited.”