Alpine Skiing: Warriors sending veteran girls contingent to state
An experienced trio of girls will represent the Brainerd Warriors in the state Alpine skiing meet Wednesday, Feb. 15, at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. Alex Stone, Grace McGuire and Payge Fitterer have all been to state at least twice--as individuals o...
An experienced trio of girls will represent the Brainerd Warriors in the state Alpine skiing meet Wednesday, Feb. 15, at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
Alex Stone, Grace McGuire and Payge Fitterer have all been to state at least twice-as individuals or as members of Brainerd's 2015 state championship team.
Stone, a senior, heads the contingent as a 5-time state participant. She has been an all-stater (top 15) the last two years, finishing 10th last year and 13th the year before. She finished 43rd as an eighth-grader and 55th as a seventh-grader.
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- State meet Giants Ridge, Biwabik
- First run 10 a.m. Wednesday, second run 1 p.m.
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"On any given day it's anybody's game," Stone said. "Anything can happen. I'm going to try to go almost 100 percent on both runs and see what happens.
"There are a lot of top girls there. The competition is a lot bigger than it's been in years past. A lot of girls have stepped up this year. Getting in the top 10 is going to be a challenge."
Warriors coach Jim Ruttger didn't want to jinx Stone by predicting she could win it all or stand on the podium (top three). But he said a high finish is likely. Stone will be the 10th skier down the hill on the first run, 11th on the second.
"I think her skiing has improved," Ruttger said. "We saw some brilliant runs from her on the state meet venue. If she can ski to her absolute potential, pick the best line and the best touch, she probably has a chance.
"That being said, even out of our section, the gal that won, Rosie Hust of Orono, is one of the top-ranked (Fédération Internationale de Ski) skiers in the nation in her age group in slalom. She's probably the heavy favorite to win state, but anything can happen. We've seen great skiers, who you anticipate great runs from, within three gates from the start they're out of the course."
Ruttger said the Warriors' other state qualifiers, Grace McGuire, Payge Fitterer, Cal Madison and Grant Kosobud, may have a few jitters Wednesday as well as skiing in less than ideal conditions because of their seeds and warm temperatures. The last time McGuire and Fitterer competed at state they were members of the championship team.
McGuire placed 76th in 2014 and 35th in 2015. She will ski 26th on her first run, 27th on the second.
"Grace is a gamer," Ruttger said. "When a lot is on the line, she skis well. She's been an athlete in enough other sports that she can get in the right frame of mind to perform at her best. I see her doing that Wednesday. "She's very well-conditioned, very much in shape. She shouldn't have any trouble with either course Wednesday. She's the seventh seed in our section. She will be seeded in the middle of the pack somewhere. She should have better snow."
Fitterer finished 65th in 2014 and 70th in 2015. She will be 74th down the hill on her first run, 75th on the second.
'Payge is a solid, consistent skier," Ruttger said. "She rarely falls. She has great balance. We keep needing to work on her touch and line as with all these skiers next year-trying to get them faster. Payge was the last individual qualifier out of our (girls) section. Her seed order is not going to be the best, which is unfamiliar territory for her. She will be toward the end of the pack as far as seeding, as will Cal and Grant.
"Especially if the conditions are warmer-we're anticipating it's not going to be below zero-snow conditions could be soft. The softer the snow the quicker the course deteriorates. There are 88 skiers. If you're 80th to 88th down the course, it could get a little dicey."
Madison will ski 66th on his first run, 67th on the second. He's believed to be the youngest Brainerd individual qualifier in the history of the boys program.
"Cal's just never stressed," Ruttger said. "He's always very relaxed at the start. He seems like he's out there having fun and can lay down smooth runs. As he gets bigger, stronger and his touch improves, he's going to be an excellent skier to watch over the next three years."
Kosobud will be the 70th skier on his first run, 71st on the second. He's the boys team's 3-time MVP. Ruttger said Kosobud has been "a rock on the boys team" for years.
"Grant's been close to advancing out of the section to state, but has never quite been there," Ruttger said. "When they were announcing (section) placings, we had calculated wrong and had no idea they would go out that far at sections.
"We didn't think any of our boys had qualified. We got the results as coaches and were able to review them before they announced them and we saw they went out 19 places. Cal and Grant were 18th and 19th so that was pretty satisfying.
"They didn't think they had made it either. When they announce results they start at the end and work their way up. They started with Grant. He was not expecting it at all. ... Seeing him have his best day as a senior was really great."