Ski teams ready to roll

by Tom Coombe

It would be quite a feat to top their performance from a year ago, but that’s exactly what members of the Ely Nordic ski teams are out to do.<BR><BR>The Timberwolves’ high school girls squad won the section title and placed third in the one-class state competition, while Ely’s boys were third in the section and sent two skiers to state.<BR><BR>That seems like a tough act to follow, but the Wolves appear to be in good shape for another strong season.<BR><BR>Five of the seven Wolves who formed Ely’s section champion girls squad are back and the boys team returns both of its state participants.<BR><BR>Ely was scheduled to open the season over the weekend in a meet at Giants Ridge.<BR><BR>For the Ely girls, it was the first step in a quest to return to state competition.<BR><BR>“Our hope is really to come together as a team as far as working together and supporting each other,” said head coach Paula Anderson, who takes over the reins this winter after serving as co-coach for several years with Bo DeRemee. “I truly believe that will help our results. Our goal from a performance end of the season would be to win the section meet and top our performance at state.”<BR><BR>With several high-caliber skiers returning and plenty of depth, the Wolves are a definite section favorite.<BR><BR>Senior Jenna Klein has advanced to state several times and finished in the top-10 in both the classical and freestyle categories last winter.<BR><BR>Teammate Kelly Chaudoin, also a senior, was eighth in freestyle and gives the Wolves another top returning skier.<BR><BR>Senior Ali Schulze, junior Ellen Anderson and sophomore Casey Sovil were also part of the state tournament roster last winter.<BR><BR>Others in the mix for varsity time for the Ely girls include seniors Taryn Cunningham and Anne Kellerman, juniors Mary Bruels, Cassie Leoni and Kristin Mitchell and sophomore Carolyn Freeman.<BR><BR>“Anything can happen,” said Anderson. “Definitely going in we feel pretty strong and we have a lot of experience, but anything can happen.”<BR><BR>The Ely boys team placed third in the section and hopes to climb this year, although topping off perennial favorite Duluth East is a tall order.<BR><BR>Junior Adam Shultz advanced to state in classical last season while senior Willy Vosburgh moved on in freestyle.<BR><BR>They lead a varsity team that includes seniors Andrew Osthoff and Stephen Markwardt, juniors David Erickson and John Crane, and sophomore Nick Peterson.<BR><BR>Seniors John Eininger and Pat McDonald are out for the team for the first time.<BR><BR>And though conditions haven’t been perfect for cross country skiing, the Wolves have been at it for several weeks and have found enough snow at the local golf course and Hidden Valley.<BR><BR>Nine Wolves, meanwhile, have had much more skiing time. They spent 10 days at West Yellowstone Park during November.<BR><BR>“We’ve got a chunk that have been on snow a fair bit,” said Anderson.<BR><BR>Turnout for the teams, which are privately funded, is stronger than ever with 32 girls and 17 boys in grades 7-12.<BR><BR>“It’s the biggest team we’ve ever had,” said Anderson.<BR><BR>Anderson is assisted by Todd Hohenstein at the varsity level, with Heather Hohenstein coaching the junior high skiers with assistance from Tyler Fish.<BR><BR>Included on the schedule is a Jan. 15 home meet at Hidden Valley.<BR><BR>