Alpine skiing: 'A very fast race'The Park, East Ridge and Woodbury boys and girls alpine skiing teams, or PWER, competed in their fourth Suburban East Conference ski meet of the season on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Afton Alps.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, South Washington County Bulletin
The Park, East Ridge and Woodbury boys and girls alpine skiing teams, or PWER, competed in their fourth Suburban East Conference ski meet of the season on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Afton Alps.
This year, Park, Woodbury and East Ridge practice together, compete in identical races and are administrated by the same staff, but race as individual high schools.
In Tuesday’s SEC race, the Woodbury boys took second place, while the Park boys finished in sixth place and East Ridge came in eighth place.
On the girls side, East Ridge finished in third place, while Woodbury came in seventh place and Park took eighth place.
“We had a great night for slalom ski racing Tuesday with perfect temperatures and snow conditions and it paid off for a fast race,” PWER first-year head coach Kevin Seipel said.
In the girls competition, East Ridge freshman Elizabeth Kopruki came in first place overall to pace the Raptors, becoming East Ridge’s first-ever overall winner and the first overall champion for the PWER program this season. In addition to Kopruki, East Ridge sophomore Jessica Lepel turned in the Raptors’ girls second-best time, finishing in sixth place overall. For the Woodbury girls, Lizzy Stefely had the Royals’ best result, finishing in seventh place overall, followed by Sarah Niederhofer, who came in eighth place overall. Park’s top finish in the girls race was turned in by freshman Stephanie Iverson, who came in 21st place overall.
On the boys side, Brady Johnson had the top finish for Woodbury, coming in sixth place overall. Woodbury’s Matt Stefely finished in 11th place overall for the Royals, followed by Karl Lund, who came in 13th place overall. Park’s top individual in the race was Cody Apitz-Henn, who came in 36th place overall. The top finisher for East Ridge was Colton Simon, who came in 46th place overall.
“The East Ridge boys had some issues with consistency,” Seipel said. “They are a young team and are working hard at every practice to improve and will do well in the future.”
PWER took a break from SEC action to compete in the 35th-annual Welch Invitational on Friday, Jan. 22, at Welch Village in Red Wing. With 19 teams and 200 skiers, the Welch Invitational continues to be one of the largest high school ski races in the country.
This year, each school sent two teams. Overall, the East Ridge girls team finished in first place, while the Woodbury boys team finished in fifth place.
“This is our first of hopefully many trophies for the alpine teams,” Seipel said.
Individually, the East Ridge girls “1” team had three skiers place in the top 10 overall, with Meghan Tomai, Lepel and Kopruki all medaling.
“Those girls will be together for a while so we look for great things now and next season,” Seipel said.
For Woodbury, Johnson and his brother Davis Johnson each finished in the top 10 as did Stefely for the Royals girls.
The teams’ final regular-season meet came on Tuesday, Jan. 26 ,after the Bulletin went to print. Next, the team will compete in the Section 4 race on Feb. 3 at Wild Mountain in Taylor Falls, where skiers will vie for a trip to the state tournament, held Feb. 10 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
“I am hopeful we will have more good news to report,” Seipel said.