Warriors Athlete of Week: Warriors’ Chaney a consistent contender
Calia Chaney tied for first at the Lake Conference Championship and added a top 5 finish at Wild Mountain last week.
BRAINERD -- She’s only halfway through her junior year of high school, but Calia Chaney already owns an impressive resume.
She added to it last week when she raced to a top time of 23.74 on her first run in the Lakes Conference championship Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Buck Hill.
She then skied to a 24.57 on the second run to tie for the individual championship with a 48.31.
“I skied that first run very aggressively,” Chaney said. “I just kind of went out there like I wanted to have fun. The course was really straightforward so it was a really great opportunity for me to be aggressive with my run and really get after it. That’s what I did and it worked out for me.”
Chaney's strategy didn’t change on her second run, but with a different, slippery course, she didn’t want to relinquish the lead because of a missed gate or fall.
“That’s not a very long hill and so the times are very fast there,” Warrior head coach Jim Ruttger said. “You don’t have a lot of time to make things up if you have a bad start or if you get messed up on the course at all. She was solidly in first after the first run and ended up in a tie, but that was with some top competition. We’re talking about Minnetonka, Edina, Eden Prairie and Wayzata. There are girls who ski almost all year long. For her to win a race down there on that hill is phenomenal.”
The victory was a confidence boost said Chaney, especially considering many of the opponents were section opponents.
I think she is one of the top half-a-dozen skiers in the state right now.
The site of Brainerd’s section meet is at Wild Mountain and Chaney and the Warriors finished the week in the Hill-Murray Invite Friday, Jan. 27, at Wild Mountain.
Chaney opened with the fourth-fastest time of 29.97. She then matched her placement with a 34.35-second run to place fifth overall with a 1:04.32 combined time.
Chaney’s win at Buck Hill wasn’t her first. She won the MLK Sunrise race Jan. 14, at Giants Ridge with a 1:16.1. She was 27th in the afternoon event with a 1:31.82.
Chaney tied for second Jan. 9 in the Detroit Lakes Invite. She posted a time of 47.15 to help Brainerd to third.
Four days prior to that, Chaney secured a seventh-place time of 50.93 at the St. Cloud invite at Powder Ridge.
“It’s pretty difficult to be consistent in Alpine skiing because it’s unlike any other sport that I play,” Chaney said. “Everything is so technical. One little mistake can cost you your entire run and you can fall and be in last place. To be really consistent it’s the constant mindset of knowing that you know how to ski and how to do it well. Plus, getting a lot of practice runs and focusing in practice and pretending it’s a race. That helps. That consistency level is definitely one of the hardest parts of Alpine skiing though.”
The Pequot Lakes junior opened the season with an eighth-place time of 1:05.13 Dec. 16 at Wild Mountain.
“She’s been by far our most consistent skier,” Ruttger said. “She’s a threat to make the podium at any race we go to. In a lot of races, you can reasonably have the expectation that she’s going to win.”
Despite being 5-foot-4 and tiny, Chaney bucks the trend of most fast slalom skiers. She generates speed without having much mass. Ruttger said it’s her skill level and touch that make Chaney so speedy.
“It’s all about the pressure you put on your skis,” Chaney said. “Our skies are designed to bend and then release when you let go of the pressure so just having the right pressure at the right time within your turn is really important. I just kind of mastered, or at least mostly mastered, that part of it. Getting that pop from your skis really gravitates you down the hill.
“There's a lot of little technical things that go into it. Sometimes being smaller doesn’t affect it that much especially if you’re on a pitch. The flats I definitely have to work for it a little bit harder than most.”
Last year as a sophomore, Chaney placed 23rd at state with a 1:24.36 for All-State honors.
“This season, I would say improving on that for sure,” Chaney said. “Knowing that I’m getting better is something that is really important to me. Even if things don’t go super well at the end of the season; just knowing that my season in general was better. I definitely would like to make it to state and improve on where I placed last year. I can hope for a top 10 if I ski the race of my life or ski very well, but I think top 15 would also be very cool. Just improving from my 23rd is something I’m hopefully looking forward to.”
Don’t believe Chaney is throwing out random places, however. She knows exactly who her top competition is across the state.
If she’s not skiing against them as a member of the Warriors she’s running into them as a member of the USSA circuit.
“We just expect improvement from her as she gets bigger and stronger,” Ruttger said. “Obviously, coming off a great cross-country season she came into our season in great shape. You just expect her to keep improving. I think she is one of the top half-a-dozen skiers in the state right now.”
This is Chaney’s fifth year on Brainerd’s varsity Alpine ski team. She competed as a member of the Warriors’ section teams as a seventh and eighth grader. As a freshman, she qualified for state, but fell in the final event. Last year was her break-out state meet, but she is no stranger to big events.
As a Pequot Lakes student-athlete, Chaney is a five-time state cross-country runner. She was 32nd in state as a seventh grader. In eighth grade she placed eighth. There was no state meet her freshman year because of COVID-19, but she did qualify. As a sophomore, she finished third and this past fall she was 10th.
She’s also a four-year varsity veteran for the Patriots track and field team. As a seventh grader, she helped Pequot’s 4x800 relay to fourth place in state. There was no track season the next year, but as a freshman, she helped Pequot’s 4x800-meter relay again finish fourth and she placed 11th in the mile.
Last spring, Chaney finished third in the mile and won the Class 2A 800 run.
Because of her state success, Chaney competed in two national track and field events. As a freshman, she finished sixth in the mile to earn All-American honors. Last summer she competed in the championship mile and in the Emerging Elite 800 run, which she won.
“I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished,” Chaney said. “I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I’m definitely looking for more especially in track this year. It’s a very important year for colleges. Definitely looking to improve this track season.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Sport: Alpine skiing
Career highlight: Winning the Class 2A 800-meter run at the state track and field meet last spring.
Other sports: Cross-country running, track and field
Grade-point average: 4.04
Favorite class: Sports Physiology
Favorite food: French toast
Favorite movie: “After”
Favorite TV show: “Friends”
Favorite musician: Bailey Zimmerman
Favorite restaurant: Taco Bell
Future plans: Run at Division I college
Favorite athlete: Justin Jefferson
Parents: Jay and Melissa Chaney
Other notable performances
Aiden Olsen, adapted floor hockey, finished with three goals and an assist against Anoka.
Johnny Pecarich, boys’ basketball, finished with 25 points against Duluth East and 28 points against Alexandria.
Nick Evanson, boys’ basketball, finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds against Duluth East.
Mason Kuepers, boys swimming and diving, won two individual events and was part of one winning relay against Sartell. Won two individual events and was part of two winning relays against Alexandria.
Lance Hastings and Taite Knapp, boys’ Nordic skiing, combined to win the sprint relay with an 11:42.8 at the Little Falls Invite.
Annelise Baird, girls’ Nordic skiing, won the individual title at the Little Falls Invite with a 34:25.1.
Brady Johnson, boys’ hockey, finished with two goals against Fergus Falls.
Kalvin Stengrim, boys’ hockey, finished with two goals against Fergus Falls.
Eli Hoelz, boys’ basketball, finished with 20 points against Elk River and 18 points against Alexandria.
Ericah Folden, girls’ hockey, finished with 18 saves in a 1-0 victory over Elk River.