Varsity Ski team looks to continue the tradition of excellence in the 2020 season

The previous seniors Courtney McAlindon and Kaley Reynolds who were two-year captains led the girls ski team to three consecutive regional and conference titles as well as a Division 2 state championship in 2017. With the graduation of 7 of the top 8 skiers in the 2019 class, the Girls Varsity Ski team is looking to rebuild this year. 

“The girls team is young and looking to rebuild after their most dominant run in school history,” Head coach Thomas Sabin said. 

This season, the girls ski team is looking up to new leadership. Junior Abby McAlindon is entering her third year on the Rangers’ Varsity Ski team and is the only returning varsity skier.  Abby and first-year varsity skier junior Koyuki Buckhold will be the captains of the girls’ team this season.

In her last two years on the varsity team, Abby has made a big impact on the slopes for the Rangers. As only a sophomore, Abby placed 16th at states in the giant slalom. She had many other notable wins the last two seasons such as placing in the top 15 in both races at regionals in 2019 and 2018. Abby consistently placed high throughout the season boosting FHC’s overall placement. Her consistency will be crucial for the Rangers’ placing at races this season. 

“I hope to keep the tradition that my sister and the team has left behind and represent FHC girls ski at states,” Abby said.

Noah Stout’s and Nathan Jenkins’s leadership from last season helped lay the groundwork for this season for the younger returning skiers. Last year’s season was a rebuilding year for the Rangers. However, this season they look to improve their conference standings. 

“The boys team is shaping up to have the strongest team in the last couple of years,” Sabin said. 

Three varsity skiers are returning from last year’s squad as well as many talented underclassmen who will be filling in the shoes of those who graduated last year. Sophomore Ben Taylor is poised to make great improvements as he starts his second year of racing.

Senior Sam Werkema and junior Aidan O’Meara will take a leadership role this season serving as the boy’s team captains. 

“I hope to make everyone feel more comfortable by giving little pointers and being really encouraging,” Aidan said. 

Sam Werkema has been gradually improving his placement in his last two seasons on the Varsity team. At Caberfae, he placed 20th in the slalom and 19th in the giant slalom in 2018. In 2019, Sam placed 16th in the giant slalom and 10th in the slalom at Caberfae. 

Both the girls and the boys team will have tough competition within their conference. The top tier teams consist of East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian, and the combined Forest Hills Northern and Eastern team. 

“Last year’s weather put a damper on our season and canceled half our practices on snow,” Sabin said. 

Similarly to last year, the weather is already affecting the number of races the ski team will have throughout the season in addition to limiting practices on snow. The first race scheduled on Tuesday, January 7th has been canceled due to weather conditions. 

Both the boys and the girls varsity ski team look to race in their first meet on Friday, January 10th at Cannonsburg.