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With snow, alpine skiers get down hills

Given the unseasonable winter weather until January rolled around, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton alpine ski team had taken a backseat to sports with stable ice and indoor floorboards. When we last heard from the program, it had two participants in last year's rain-soaked state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. Those state skiers, Emily Regas and Teagen Tessier, are back this year. The Pine Knot asked coach Ryan Zimny about the season so far:

Q How goes the alpine ski season so far, in terms of weather, performance by CEC skiers, and general team vibe? How many meets have you had so far?

Zimny: It has been a challenging season with the weather obviously. Training was very limited early in the season, but we were able to get a race in just before winter break at Giants Ridge. The rain over Christmas destroyed the snow we had, though, so it was starting over at the ski hill after that. We had our second race Monday, and with the colder weather the ski hills have been able to fill in the snow and it has set up nicely. Our girls team has a full squad of experienced athletes and they have been performing well. And while our boys squad has less experience, they have been improving with every practice.

Q How many kids do you have out for each team this year, and how does that compare to last year?

Zimny:We have eight boys and five girls, which is about the same as last year.

Q Who returned from last year's team that we should be watching? Any surprises from returning or new skiers?

Zimny: Returning for the girls are Emily Regas, Nadia Tessier, Teagen Tessier, Madysen Waters, and returning after missing most of last season to injury is Lauren Radovich. Returning for the boys are Karson Kronlund, Aiden True, Quinn Waters, Ethan Krone, and Jackson Lamb. The girls are especially strong across the board, with Emily, Teagen, and Nadia all pushing each other for the top slot.

Q How did Monday's meet go?

Zimny: The girls finished second just behind Duluth East, with Teagen finishing fourth, Nadia fifth, Emily sixth, Madysen 16th, and Lauren in 20th. The boys finished eighth place, with Quinn Waters as the top boy in 33rd, Carson 35th, Aiden 39th, Ethan 40th, Eli in 47th and Jackson in 49th.

Q What's it like for the skiers on really cold days, like Monday, when it was 7-below at Mont du Lac?

Zimny: Mont du Lac is the easiest place to hold a cold race because the race hill is easily accessible and they open the top chalet for us to stage out of, so we line them up inside and send them out to take their run, and then they can head straight into the bottom chalet.

Q We presume most of the snow is manmade. Does that matter with alpine skiing?

Zimny: Artificial snow is great as long as it is cold enough to make it. The nice thing with artificial snow is that the moisture content can be adjusted to make a nice hard base, which is perfect for racing.

Q What are your goals as a team?

Zimny: Our goals are always to be good teammates, work hard with good attitudes, and improve.

Q What are your hopes for the postseason?

Zimny: This girls team is the strongest I've had in over 20 years of coaching. Although short on numbers, our talent puts us up amongst the top teams in the section. I would love to see this squad make it to State, but that is always a difficult task coming out of our section.