Alpine skiing: ConVal girls’ stellar season culminates at state championship

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' alpine skiing team raced at the Division II championship at Pats Peak on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/15/2019 11:06:35 AM

ConVal’s assemblage of elite individual skiers came together as a team this winter, and they reaped the rewards Thursday at the NHIAA Division II girls’ alpine skiing championships at Pats Peak in Henniker.

Rosie Crooker and Molly Dishong each raced to a pair of top-ten finishes in slalom and giant slalom, with Ella Dishong and Jaclyn Clark not far behind. ConVal was second as a team in the SL, behind Hanover, and third in the GS, behind Hanover and Kennett.

“It’s been super amazing having this team this year,” Crooker said. “We have four really solid top scorers and following them, Jill (Karlicek) and Marina (McMahon) are almost always top-2o. It’s pretty amazing that we always have such a secure spot.”

The Cougar girls won four alpine races as a team this winter, one of their most successful seasons in recent history. ConVal alpine coach Holly Wilson said that the secret her girls’ success is two-fold, a mix of natural ability and making the transition between USSA racing – which the most dedicated high school skiers participate in on the weekends – and the more team-oriented high school racing, where team scores matter.

“I think it’s a combination of talent, drive and enthusiasm,” Wilson said, “but I also think they’re starting to understand the team mentality in high school racing which is different than the U-program.”

Racing as individuals without a team to support, skiers can give up after a fall, knowing that they’ve already eliminated themselves from individual glory. But with a team counting on them, they’ll give an extra effort.

“If you fall here, it’s like get up and go, put your ski back on!” Wilson said. 

The afternoons training and racing at Crotched Mountain paid off for ConVal Thursday at Pats Peak, where team chemistry and honed skill culminated in a big day for the Cougars, who were – almost – all business.

“At Crotched, a lot of times I’m more focused on having fun, hanging out with the team, going up to the top and having snowball fights with the boys,” Crooker said, “but here, I feel like I have to try a little harder to accomplish my goals.”

The championship course was rounder and more back-and-forth than the skiers who call Crotched home were used to – “It was a little more technical, I like to go for speed,” Crooker said – but it didn’t slow the Cougars much. 

In the opening event, the GS, Molly Dishong was seventh in 1:10.51; Hanover’s Riley Craft won in 1:09.24. Crooker was eighth in 1:10.92; Ella Dishong finished 20th in 1:13.89 and Jaclyn Clark rounded out the ConVal scoring in 41st place (1:20.65). Jillian Karlicek was just behind Clark in 42nd (1:21.27). 

With Anna Gombas a late scratch, the final GS spot for ConVal went to Anna Bartsch, who didn’t know she was going to race until she was already on the bus headed to Henniker. Bartsch was up for the challenge.

“That’s one of the things I really like about this team is that we’re always goofing around,” Crooker said, “but when it’s time, we’re always here for each other.”

Bartsch was unable to finish her first run but bounced back and completed her second, showing the resilience this Cougar team can muster.

“Sometimes that’s part of the race,” Wilson said. “Sometimes that happens, and you’ve got to rise to it. If you look at Mikaela Shiffrin, how many totally clean runs does she have? They make mistakes, even the professionals, and can they recover? That’s where it is, that’s what the core of a really good ski racer is.”

ConVal took third in the GS and was even better in the afternoon SL race, where the Cougars finished third. Molly Dishong (sixth, 1:29.41) and Crooker (seventh, 1:30.40) each moved up a spot from their morning finishes. Ella Dishong took 16th (1:36.88); Clark got 32nd (1:48.62); Karlicek was 53rd and Marina McMahon, in the final ConVal slot, was disqualified in her second run. 

Betweeen the boys and girls, ConVal’s alpine teams were 25 strong this year; they’ll graduate eight but retain their top three scoring girls as well as Noah Krason, who had a top-ten finish of his own at the DII boys’ championship on Monday. Next up this season is the Meet of Champions at Cannon Mountain on Feb. 28, where top-ten finishers from all divisions will converge to crown the best in the state.

Division IV championship

Wilton-Lyndeborough’s Ian Van Ham and Harrison Browne were in action at Crotched Mountain in the Division IV boys’ championship on Thursday. Van Ham landed a pair of ninth-place finishes; he was ninth in the GS in 1:15.81 and ninth in the slalom at 1:13.42.

Charles Loukes of Lin-Wood won both races. 

Browne was 32nd in the GS in 1:23.41 and 34th in the SL in 1:32.66.


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