Skiers Race Down the Slopes To State Finals

Carving down the slopes this winter at Cannonsburg, the ski team celebrates the time they have on the unpredictable snow they have gotten this season. 

“The snow was pretty soft at the beginning of the year but since it’s gotten colder the snow is a lot harder,” Lila Nargi ‘24 said. Though this may be the home hill for Pioneer racers, many races are in the north. 

“My favorite hill to race at is Nubs Nob,” Nargi said. 

Another fan of Nubs Nob is Maddie Darrooge ‘22 and her younger sister Hannah Darooge ‘25. 

A speedy freshman full of potential who is skiing in her big sister’s tracks, Hannah is dedicating a lot of free time to her ski career. 

“I do USSA outside of high school races,” Hannah said. “It helps me keep consistent racing and more race time on the snow.”

Many skiers take time in the off-season to travel and attend ski camps. 

The East Grand Rapids ski team even ventures to Copper Mountain in Colorado each November to kick-start their season training.

“I believe that the skiing is much more difficult out west than it is here,” Jack Hoekstra ‘22 said. “When we are out west, we’re skiing on much steeper terrain so it is good preparation.”

Back at Cannonsburg, however, the team encourages more students to spectate their races. 

“A lot of people come to the meets but it’s mostly parents,” Nargi said. To race at these events, one must first qualify.  

“States are February 28th if we get first or second in regionals that is,” Darooge said. 

The team has set high goals for the remainder of the season. “I think the girls’ team will make it to states and we have a good chance at winning,” Madeline said. 

“Going into the race we have a goal for the guys’ team to achieve third or better to qualify for states,” Henry Sippel ‘22 said. 

While team camaraderie and student support are important, the EGR ski coaches have had a significant impact on the lives of the racers. 

As the season finale approaches, Pioneers are reminiscing on their experiences on the ski team and the impact the of coaches on their lives. 

“Hannah Stuursma has been the most influential coach in my high school career because she has had a huge impact helping me and the rest of the JV girls with our skills and technique,” Lila Nargi ‘24 said.

“They are super helpful in season, but I am not close with them outside,” Brecken Winkel ‘23 said. 

Seniors offer a unique perspective on the coaching staff, after having worked with them for four seasons. 

“The coach that has been most influential throughout my time on the ski team has probably been Coach Nargi,” Sippel said. 

“When I joined I was treated by coaches as a freshman and was the butt of a lot of the jokes,” Sippel said. “However, as the years passed I learned to enjoy the coach’s sarcastic sense of humor and can now banter back and forth and have a good laugh.” 

“Nargi has taught me so much about the sport which is what makes him the most influential- he is always there at the bottom of the racecourse giving his honest opinion on how my form is and isn’t shy to tell me how to improve,” Sippel continued. 

Unfortunately, the boys did not qualify to compete at the state championship as a team, but some individuals did.  To qualify, a team must place in the top three at Regionals, and the boys from Eart Grand Rapids placed fourth. 

This leaves many seniors to reflect on how their lives will be without ski racing. 

“The sounds that the gates make as I ski by them,”  Luke Sippel ‘22  said. “Also, I’ll miss after practice going to Wendy’s!”

The girls’ team celebrates their recent Regionals win on Feb. 14.  They will be sending eight girls to States, however only 6 will compete. The other two are JV “forerunners,” who will preview the course for those competing and travel along for the experience.

“They give us a good course report,” Winkel said. 

“I am excited for states this week!  We are all staying at a house together as a team,” Winkel said. 

This state finals competition will be held Feb. 28 at Schuss Mountain.

This article appeared in the February edition of The East Vision.