MOUNT ASHLAND, Ore. — Hundreds of high school alpine skiers are racing down Mount Ashland this week to compete for one of just a few spots among the state’s top ski athletes.
“From our home mountain, Mount Ashland all the way up to Mount Hood,” Southern League State Race Committee Chair, Janelle Dunlevy said. “They’re racing giant slalom and slalom.”
272 kids from all over Oregon have made their way to Mount Ashland to race in the Oregon State High School Alpine Ski Championships.
“These kids are going fast down the hill, they’re running through gates, they’re hitting gates, and they’re having to work through some very interesting snow conditions,
Southern Oregon is represented by the Southern Oregon League of Alpine Racers. This league includes schools from Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass and even Lakeview.
“It takes a lot for these kids to get up here every weekend for practice they practice every weekend, and on Thursdays,” Dunlevy said. “I would imagine all of the other leagues practice about the same, but it takes a lot of dedication.”
For Grants Pass High School this year is a special one. It’s the first year in decades they’ve had a team and been able to qualify for state.
“It’s been, probably, since the 80s, I went last year as an individual but this year we have a team,” Grants Pass High School racer, Jack Galli said.
Even with all the tough competition from more than 50 schools and five leagues, the Southern Oregon racers are hoping their familiarity with the mountain will help boost them to number one.
“The kids are really used to the ice this year because it’s been icy all year long, the ice is better than the slushier snow,” Dunlevy said. “The kids really have to adjust as they go down the course.”
Either way, they say they’re proud and most importantly they’re having fun.
“When you’re out skiing it’s always fun, up on the mountain enjoying the fresh air,” Galli said.
The alpine ski races continue on Mount Ashland until Friday. Later that night winners will be announced at the Historic Ashland Armory.
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