While there is only one high school ski team in the Lansing area, it is shaping up to be one of the better ones in the state.
The Okemos boys team figures to represent the region well by competing for both a league and regional title.
The Chiefs are members of the Mount Brighton Interscholastic Ski Association, and Okemos coach Chad Buehler believes he has the top team.
“I expect that we will be No. 1 in our league,” Buehler said. “We have the seniors coming up, and we have a couple kids that are just ripping it.”
Two Chiefs racers figure to lead the pack this season. One of those is Trey VanWieren, who finished 18th at the regional meet in the giant slalom last season. The other is Carson Covell, whom Buehler believes will take a leap forward in 2013.
The duo’s experience outside of high school is what has Buehler expecting big things.
“They’ve had a lot of training,” Buehler said. “They’ve raced at the USSA level. They’ve competed where there is a lot more competition than high school.”
Okemos will need its depth to step up though. In high school competition, the top four finishers can score for their team. The Chiefs will be trying to knock off Traverse City West, which captured the regional title in 2012.
Buehler, who has been the coach for four seasons, believes this year’s boys team might be the best he’s had.
As for the girls team, expectations are for a middle-of-the-pack finish in the league. Although the team has been strong in the past, it doesn’t have the depth to secure points.
“They might not perform at that level right now as a team, but we’re certainly working on our skills,” Buehler said.
Strong seasons are expected from Katie Johnson and Brooke Bubolz. The two girls finished 17th and 31st, respectively, in the giant slalom at regionals last season.
“They are the girls team captains and also the strongest competitors on our team,” Buehler said.
Being on the ski team requires a level of commitment not necessarily required for other high school sports. Every day, the athletes must travel to Brighton for practice or a competition.
The season runs through Feb. 25, which is the Division 1 state final at Boyne Mountain near Boyne City and Charlevoix for any racers who qualify. The Chiefs’ regional will take place the week of Feb. 11-15 at Mount Brighton.