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Girls Alpine Skiing: Warriors will have new No. 1 skier this winter

Brainerd Warrior Alpine skier Emma Hiebert works on her technique during practice at Mount Ski Gull this week. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

For the first time in years, the Brainerd Warriors will not have a Pequot Lakes student as their No. 1 skier.

Savannah Stone was the first Patriot to be the team's No. 1 skier. After Savannah graduated, her sister, Alex, replaced her. Last year Grace McGuire occupied the top spot.

"It's going to be one of the most interesting years just to see who takes over that No. 1 spot," Warriors coach Jim Ruttger said. "Ever since Savannah, I think we've had a skier from Pequot Lakes skiing No. 1 for us."

Among those vying for the No. 1 position are junior Emma Hiebert, who skied in the team's No. 2 position last year. She is one of four skiers returning from a section team that placed sixth last season. Maddie Kalenburg, Alli Krantz and Maddie Pederson also return. Kalenberg finished 30th in the section, Krantz 42nd and Pederson 48th.

"Emma's doing well this season so far," Ruttger said, "and all the rest of that section team have been really solid. I see all of them vying for those top slots as well as Erin Hoelzel, Cassidy Chaney, Whitney Fink, Linsey Proctor and Madeline Sherman.

"Roster decisions are going to be hard to make for a while until we have some meets to sort that out.

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Alpine skiing 2018-19

  • Head coach: Jim Ruttger, 30th season
  • 2017-18 girls finish: Third in Section 5
  • 2017-18 boys finish: Sixth in Section 5
  • Girls captains: Emma Hiebert, Maddie Kalenberg
  • Boys state entrant: Brandon Neifert
  • Boys captains: Cal Madison, Max Darkow, Brandon Neifert
  • Assistant coaches: Tom Burton, Deby Zarling
  • Volunteer coaches: Jeff Aga, Larry Zarling, Courtney Neifert, Andy Rangen, David Ude

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"We've got some seventh-graders coming up that had phenomenal results in our Alpine club. I think we're going to be finding some of them in our varsity lineup probably pretty early on in our schedule."

Seventh-graders Ruttger mentioned who are in the mix for varsity spots are Calia Chaney, Lauren Kalenberg, Addie Ryan, Millie Taylor and Aubrey Wiczek.

"All had great results in our Alpine club," Ruttger said. "Calia's another skier who's fully invested. She's skiing for a USSA team out of Powder Ridge (in Kimball). She did that last year as a sixth-grader. She ended up in national races doing top-five finishes in her age group. She's been really solid when we ran times on her last weekend."

Ruttger said the Alpine team may be one of the few entities that has benefited from this year's unseasonably cold fall. He said the Warriors practiced for the first time at Mount Ski Gull Nov. 30, the earliest Brainerd has ever been able to get on the hill.

"They put down a 24-inch base over the entire hill," Ruttger said. "We've never had such great conditions this early. They've been able to set the courses right to left, top to bottom, anywhere we've wanted to go. We need about two feet of snow to get our gates in—18 inches at a minimum.

"We've been really pleased with Mount Ski Gull. That was their goal to get that hill open for training for our team and for the Alpine Club before they moved off and did other hills. Kudos to them this year. They did an outstanding job."

Ruttger said the Warriors have added two different meets this season. The first will be Jan. 7 in the Lakes Area Invitational at Detroit Mountain in Detroit Lakes. The second will be Jan. 25 at the Afton Alps Invitational. Ruttger said Brainerd has never skied at Detroit Mountain.

"I think some teams over that way, like Detroit Lakes and maybe Moorhead, are contemplating adding Alpine skiing," Ruttger said. "That would be where they train. They wanted us to come over.

"I think St. Cloud and our team are going to run over there and do a night race. It will be fun for us. It will be a race we can bring the entire team to. Actually, there are three races this year where we should be able to roster everybody. It's really nice for some of our younger kids who don't get to be on a lot of rosters."

Afton Alps is the site of the section meet.

"Normally we go to our section meet and have never skied on that hill except for sections," Ruttger said. "We will be able to bring our key players down there and give them race experience a week or so before sections which we think will be a benefit."

Girls roster

Juniors: Cassidy Chaney, Whitney Fink, Emma Hiebert, Maddie Kalenberg, Linsey Proctor, Madeline Sherman

Sophomores: Julia Goralsky, Erin Hoelzel, Alli Krantz, Carsyn Krassas, Anna Krieger, Maddie Pederson

Freshmen: Ella Kauffman, Hannah Taylor, Annika Wiczek

Eighth-graders: Lucille Boche, Emma Frantzick, Cadence Hartwig, Allison Kotzenmacher, Morgan Krieger, Anna Tupy

Seventh-graders: Calia Chaney, Bridget Collins, Brooke Goll, Lauren Kalenberg, Sophia Karsnia, Lindsey Neifert, Cora Novotny, Paige Ritter, Addie Ryan, Millie Taylor, Aubrey Wiczek