Sweet victory for Alpine teams at Virginia Invite

Coach Charles Lamb


The Cook County Alpine Ski Team had a stellar showing at the first Arrowhead conference race of the season at Giants Ridge on December 18. Both the boys’ and girls’ Alpine teams captured first place. Left: Junior Will Lamb led his team to victory at the Virginia Invite. Above: Alyssa Martinson carried a lot of speed at the bottom of the headwall, finishing in an impressive 5th place! The Cook County Alpine Ski Team had a stellar showing at the first Arrowhead conference race of the season at Giants Ridge on December 18. Both the boys’ and girls’ Alpine teams captured first place. Left: Junior Will Lamb led his team to victory at the Virginia Invite. Above: Alyssa Martinson carried a lot of speed at the bottom of the headwall, finishing in an impressive 5th place! The Cook County Alpine Ski Team traveled to Giants Ridge for the first Arrowhead conference race of the season. Like other ski areas, “The Ridge” has been struggling to make snow this season. The only run open for the two SL run event was the headwall of Innsbruck with a traverse through the flats and a fast finish on lower Helsinki. Girls and boys ran on the same course, ladies first, not because of chivalry but because girls don’t tear up the course as fast as the boys.

The weather cooperated with calm wind, overcast skies, light snow and temperatures in the mid teens. Because of the mild winter, everyone was joking about how cold 15 F felt! Virginia and Hibbing had been training for a couple weeks on the race run and it was in great shape, fast and icy.


Photos courtesy of the team Photos courtesy of the team The Virginia coach set two fast, wide-open SL courses that looked like a blast to ski during inspection. The strategy of the day was to rise above the nervous tension at the start ramp, survive the steep headwall, taking as much risk as each individual racer could get away with and carry as much speed as possible through the flats and lower half of the course. Our goal was to use our Lutsen training to focus on fast, solid completions.

First up for the lady Vikes, freshman Reilly Wahlers charged out of the gate and attacked the whole course, waking up the Arrowhead conference, finishing an impressive 2nd in her first run. When the snow dust settled after her second attempt she finished the day in 3rd (1:22.04) edged out by Duluth East senior Avery Plude 2nd (1:21.92) and Hermantown senior McKenzie Bremel 1st who took the victory by a sizable margin 1:19.44.

Next up for Cook County was hard-working junior Alyssa Martinson. Alyssa has indeed shifted into a faster gear this season, combined with newly discovered race day confidence. She threw down two, fast solid runs ending the day in 5th followed in 7th by freshman phenom Sela Backstrom who loves speed and just continues to go faster. Haley Yoki of Silver Bay was looking fantastic as she pounded down the icy headwall in her first attempt. She entered the flush in the flats a little too fast, blew out and hiked, finishing the day at the back of the pack.

Next up was Morgan Weyrens Welch who skied great, completing both runs and went just fast enough to be our 4th scorer for the girls. Santina McMillan 18th, Madysen McKeever 20th and Hanna Borson 26th also completed both their runs.

After a short re-dress of the course, which held up very nicely, the first seed boys mustered at the start ramp. As they were going through warm-ups, the clouds cleared revealing the first sun the Northland had seen in almost two weeks.

First up for the Vikes, Will Lamb pushed it to the max taking advantage of the great visibility finishing 1st in his first attempt. He pushed it a little too hard in his second attempt with a near blow out at the bottom of the icy Innsbruck headwall, recovered and finished the day in 1st place (1:14.01).

He was followed close behind by Hermantown junior Austin Danelski 2nd (1:14.13) who edged him by .03 seconds in the second run but not enough to steal a victory; close behind was Hermantown Junior Tyler Winberg was (3rd) 1:14.73.

The fast-paced action continued with Logan Backstrom throwing down a solid completion in his first attempt, but unhappy with his time, he came back with a vengeance in his second run finishing the day in 5th. Eric Lawler followed our advice throwing down two clean, fast runs to capture 8th followed by our fourth scorer, young gun Will Surbaugh 13th, quickfooted Ezra Lunde 16th and Masen McKeever 17th.

The top four finishers make up the team score.

Our junior varsity girls swept the podium with great skiing by Halle Lamb in 1st, Elsa Lunde 2nd and True Nies 3rd.

On the boys’ side Kevin Viren is developing on track, winning 1st for the second week in a row followed by solid-skiing Lynden Blomberg in 2nd place. It is great that the Virginia Alpine Team hosts a junior varsity field.

It took over an hour for the officials to tabulate the results so we knew it was going to be a close race for the team victory. So, after they called all the top finishing individuals up to the front, they started reading off the top team finishes starting with 8th place. When all was said and done our boys’ and girls’ teams were the last teams announced, winning first place on the boys’ side by 7 points and winning first place on the girls side by just 2 points!

The opening conference race was a sweet victory for our team!

But now we need to focus on our upcoming holiday training with more laps on steep terrain, tougher courses, intensity, race tactics and our overall goal to generate more speed. The Duluth teams will be coming on strong when we return to racing after the New Year.

The next race for the Alpine Vikings will be back at Giants Ridge on Thursday January 7.


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