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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 14, 2010

Dutch Nordic skiers battling snow conditions

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– The 55 boys and girls who make up the varsity and junior-varsity Nordic ski teams for the Dutchmen all have the same simple request: More snow please.

At practice on Monday at the high school, the varsity team refused to ski out back because there was little to no snow on the ground. The wind has blown what snow there is to the back of the grounds.

The junior-varsity team was outside, but limited to one path along the back fencing.

“The training facilities are not that great, but we deal,” said Head Coach Barb Newton. Western Turnpike Golf Course grooms a track for the team every year, but at least 10 inches of snow are needed. “There’s never enough snow around here. We’re always praying for a storm.”

Sophomore Marissa Buyck, who was the first varsity girl to cross the finish line for Guilderland at the Queensbury Invitational on Saturday with a time of 18:51, had an idea for better practice conditions. “I know that money is tight right now, but a little grooming machine –– even one that’s handmade –– would work wonders and allow us to make tracks out back,” she said.

The varsity girls’ team placed eighth out of 19 teams at Queensbury with 82 points. Casey Gerety was 23rd with a time of 19:12, Alicia Switser was 40th at 20:35, and Kyra Malamood came in 54th at 22:15.

The varsity boys finished fourth out of 18 teams with 70 points. Barrett Smith was the first Dutch skier to cross the line in 18th place with a time of 29:12 and Andrew Klug was right behind in 19th with a time of 29:19. Bryan Dyer and Andrew Coy finished in 33rd and 40th respectively.

Klug told The Enterprise that Nordic skiing is just as serious as any other sport. “We’re just like any other sports team at this school. We love what we do,” he said. “We wouldn’t get good times if we weren’t serious about it.”

Newton said that 55 skiers is the largest number of skiers the program has had since it was founded in the 1970s. Assistant Coach Jon Mapstone encouraged some ninth and tenth-graders to pick up skiing.

“This group is well split between new and returning,” Newton said. “Some of them use skiing to stay in shape and others really want to compete.”

The athletes on the team use two different styles of skiing: classic and skate. Classic is a traditional running style and skate is similar to roller-blading or ice-skating. The majority of races this year are skate style and the kids at Guilderland seem to prefer skate style.

“I think most of us like skate style better because you can go faster,” said Gerety. “The cross-country runners like classic though.”

Nordic skiing may be often overlooked, but it’s a lifetime sport. “It’s definitely different, but unique,” Gerety said. “You get to be out in nature.”

“The camaraderie brings people together and it builds character,” said Newton. “These kids are out there in awful conditions, competing.”

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