The Ballston Spa High School girls’ Alpine ski team plans to stay on the top of the mountain this year.
Last year’s Section II champions and state runners-up looked sharp on the slopes, starting its 2021 campaign with a first- and second-place finish during a pair of giant slalom races last week in the season opener at West Mountain.
Ballston Spa finished one point behind Saratoga Springs in Ballston Spa’s first run for a second-place finish, but seniors Claire Felton, Sara Phelps along with junior Mallory Czimbal regrouped with all three finishing in the top 10 during the second run, as the team took the top spot.
“It was pretty cool. We’ve had it a couple times last year like that,” Felton said. “It’s always nice to have a couple in the top 10. It’s always the goal.”
Like everyone else, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed things for the Scotties. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association canceled the state winter championships and Section II followed with the same decision.
That hasn’t deterred the Ballston Spa squad.
“I’m truly grateful for the season because I do care a lot about the senior season,” Phelps said. “I’m really grateful for a chance to ski for Ballston Spa one more time.”
Phelps saw her fall soccer season postponed, tentatively until March 1 as part of a newly designated Fall II season, a decision made by the Ballston Spa school district along with several other leagues last fall.
“This year, I’ve definitely learned to not take anything for granted because of the situation we’re in right now,” she said. “Our season is a gift so we’re being safe and supporting each other as we go.”
As a junior, Czimbal looks up to seniors Felton and Phelps.
“It’s really important to me to see what Claire and Sara are doing,” Czimbal said. “Claire, she’s always at the top; I strive to live up to that for my senior year next year.”
The group, together for the past three years, has evolved.
“I feel like we’ve been working a lot on teamwork and supporting each other individually,” Czimbal said. “It is an individual sport, but we have been supportive of everyone as we go.”
Close times, close finishes have helped make the Scotties a better squad.
“Both of them equally push me to get faster times, better results,” Phelps said. If they weren’t there I definitely wouldn’t have as much competition on the team and without them I would be excelling like I am right now in high school.”
Ballston Spa Alpine coach Mitch Huff wasn’t surprised by the Scotties top-two team finishes last week.
“Those three girls have jelled together. They push each other and there is a little internal competition, but it fosters a really good relationship between all three of them,” Huff said. “They all get along great.”
The trio are also just the tip of the iceberg for Ballston Spa.
“I have two other seniors [Makena Evans and Megan Phelps, twin sister of Sara], and both are just outside the top 10 and pushing, making improvements this season,” said Huff.
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