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Warriors Athlete of Week: Stone legacy on Alpine team ending

Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Brainerd Warrior Alex Stone, who skied in the state meet Wednesday, competes in the Brainerd Invite at Ski Gull.

Alex Stone

Sport: Alpine skiing

Year: Senior

Age: 17

Height: 5-6

Career highlight: Member of 2015 state championship Brainerd girls Alpine ski team

Other sports: Golf, tennis

Grade-point average: 4.0

Favorite class: Accounting

Favorite food: Spaghetti

Favorite movie: "Get Smart"

Favorite TV show: "One Tree Hill"

Hobbies: Golfing, reading, painting

Favorite athlete: American World Cup Alpine ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin

Next year: Attend Augustana in Sioux Falls, S.D., play golf

Parents: Mike and Kelly Stone

For the first time in 10 years, next season's Brainerd Warrior girls Alpine skiing team will not feature one of Mike and Kelly Stone's daughters.

Savannah Stone started the family's Warrior Alpine legacy during the winter of 2008-09 and was one of the program's top skiers for five years. She was a 2-time all-state skier, including a state runner-up in 2012-13.

As a seventh-grader, Alex Stone joined her sister on the Brainerd varsity and Alex capped her 6-year career at Wednesday's state meet. Alex also was a 2-time all-stater entering the final meet of her career.

"Every team has that one athlete that everyone looks to be that example," Warriors coach Jim Ruttger said. "In our case, it's been solid technique and good tactics on the course. We're going to miss that somewhat next year having that person our kids always can compare themselves to to see if they're improving.

"We will have Grace (McGuire) and Payge (Fitterer) back. They're progressing, they're improving their skills, the mantle is shifting to them. But we will miss not having a Stone for 10 years in that position."

Alex said it was "definitely going to be sad" not to be with the team next season.

"I'm going to miss it a lot," she said. "I've been thinking of past memories lately, how they've shaped me to be the person I am today. It's been a great experience. I've gained a lot of leadership qualities from it."

When Savannah graduated in 2013, Alex replaced her as Brainerd's No. 1 skier. In every meet in the last four years, Alex has been the Warrior other teams have targeted.

"I don't feel like I've had that much pressure," Alex said. "I know I have the No. 1 spot. I just have to help support the team. If I focus too much on (being No. 1), that won't help me complete my race so I just try to focus on each race individually and try to do my best."

Alex was at her best this season, winning five races, the first time a Warrior has done that, and was pushing the leaders in the races she didn't win.

"Even the ones she didn't come out on the podium, she was a factor in one or two of the other runs at some point," Ruttger said. "When she's skiing her best, very few skiers in meets we were at could keep up with her."

Ruttger said what makes Alex such a skilled skier is the rare ability to locate the fastest line down a course.

"If you ski too straight of a line, you will get late eventually and you're going to miss gates," he said. "If you do two rounded turns, typically you will add distance to your line and that translates to a slower time.

"Alex has what we call great touch on snow. When she's skiing her best, she's always finding that fastest line but applying the right amount of touch for the turn shape that's needed. If you're touch is too soft, you're going to lose control. If (your touch) is too hard, you will look good, but you will be a little slow. They're subtle skills that take years of training and thousands of gates to perfect."

When not skiing for the Warriors, Stone competed in United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) events.

"(USSA) gets you to know your real competition throughout the whole state of Minnesota," Alex said, " while high school races are not as high a level of competition.

"FIS is just another branch of USSA, a higher level, even higher than USSA."

Coming from, and skiing with, a family of skiers also contributed to Alex's success.

"Savannah, I looked up to her," Alex said. "She pushed me to be where I am. My dad is one of my (Warrior) coaches so it's like having a private coach. That's definitely influenced me along the way."

Other notable efforts:

• Grace McGuire, Payge Fitterer, Cal Madison and Grant Kosobud, Alpine skiing, qualified for state.

• Kylee Heurung, girls basketball, had 19 points and 13 rebounds vs. Willmar and 21 points and 18 rebounds vs. Tech.

• Michael Russell, boys basketball, scored 26 points vs. Willmar and 23 vs. Alexandria.

• Michael Bylander, Gunnar Niemeyer, Preston Owen, Griffin Blegen and Devan Liebeg, swimming, earned All-CLC honors.

• Millie Klefsaas and Jaelyn Kappes, gymnastics, earned All-CLC distinction.

• Jake Heikkenen, floor hockey, scored four goals vs. Robbinsdale.

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