While coach Dane Klindt lost seniors Ethan Martin, Petra Van Kessel-Ervin, and state-qualifier, Louis Red Cloud to graduation, the cupboard isn’t exactly bare for The Dalles ski team.
They are young, but coachable, determined and ready to take on the best skiers in the Mount Hood Ski League.
“I am anxious to get all these kids on the course and see what they can do,” Klindt said. “It’s a great group and I am excited to be working with all of them this year. We may be young and lacking some experience, but I am convinced that by the middle of the season, The Dalles is going to be on everyone’s minds in the league as the athletes to watch out for.”
On the roster, Klindt has George Harrison and Austin Weir as two seniors, and Hannah Biehn is the lone junior returner.
Harrison, Biehn and sophomore Ashley Quisenberry have the most competitive racing experience, and the other seven underclassmen will be earning their skiing stripes on the fly.
“George should be leading the boys team this year and I am anxious to see him back on the course,” coach Klindt said. “Hannah is our leader for the girls and I’m happy to have such a great example for our younger girls to follow. She is a true athlete and will be a contender this year.”
Ella Smith and Peyton Beeks are two sophomores, and the freshman group is comprised of Grey Roetcisoender, Paul Kelly, McConly ‘Bucky’ Wilkonson, Fiona Dunlop, and Lucy Booth. “All the other boys have never raced before,” coach Klindt said. “Austin, Paul and Grey have done a lot of skiing in their past and I am sure racing will come quickly. Bucky and Peyton have the least experience on skis, but they have worked hard. By the middle of the season, I am convinced they will be contributing a lot towards our team scores.”
Middle school skiers who can compete on the junior varsity level for the Riverhawks include Cooper Klindt, Henry Perez and Ari Durso.
They will notch times as individuals, but as middle schoolers, their time doesn’t count for the high school score.
Coach Klindt is happy to see a full roster of girls who will compete for team times and jump up in the rankings to contend with Hood River Valley, Sandy, Grant, Cleveland, Benson and St. Mary’s Academy.
“Ashley and Lucy are going to add great things to the team and will also be girls to watch. I’m sure they are going to be up there in the standings,” coach Klindt said. “Fiona and Ella are both first-time racers, but they are very strong skiers and great, hard-working athletes. I believe that the girls stand a good chance of being a team to watch out for.”
At this juncture, there is not much snow on the mountain, so Klindt devised some drills and training exercises to keep the team sharp ahead of the season-opener on Saturday, Jan. 4.
“While they are young, I think they are very strong and I have high expectations for them,” coach Klindt said. “Ski racing is unique in letting middle school kids compete against high school kids. I think it is a great opportunity for them and helps them build confidence. Having them here will allow us to build the core of the team, so when they get to high school, we have a good foundation for success.”
After the Jan. 4 race on Meadows, TD hits the slopes again in a Westside giant slalom event at Ski Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 11.
TD has seven races planned, before state action takes place from Mar. 4-7 on Mount Ashland.
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