Alpine skiers appreciate sanctioned status

After three years of downhill racing in relative anonymity, Rochester high school alpine skiers now have what they truly desired.

The skiers are racing for their schools in 2009-10, after receiving Minnesota State High School League sanctioned status for the first time. Rochester formerly had club alpine ski teams.

"These kids wanted to be recognized by their peers in the sport that they enjoy," Rochester ski coach Dan Soderberg said. "Last year at this time we were finishing with a fun race, against the skiers’ parents. This year we have kids getting ready to compete in the section meet, and then possibly state."

Soderberg got the OK for sanctioned status after meeting with the Rochester high school athletic directors this summer. The agreement was conditional on alpine skiing being non-school funded, the same arrangement made for lacrosse last school year.

After agreeing to that, and the $500 per-skier price tag that went with it ($200 of it covered by fundraisers), Rochester has itself two boys sanctioned teams and two girls sanctioned ones. They are Mayo/Century and Lourdes/Schaefer for both.


Soderberg is the head coach of the boys teams, while his wife Barb coaches the girls. Practices have been at Welch Village, with the team making the 45-minute trip three times a week by bus.

The Rochester teams have had five meets this season, with the "River Bluff Conference" meet coming Friday at Welch Village. Tuesday is the state-qualifying section meet at Buck Hill in Bursville, with the state meet Feb. 10 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

The Mayo/Century combination will be broken up next week, with the schools representing themselves for those competitions. Lourdes/Schaefer will stay together.

Rochester’s top boys skiers have been Grady Gores (Lourdes/Schaefer), Zach Schmidt (Mayo) and Sean Hanson (Century). Top girls skiers are Anne Burnes (Mayo), Kate Hanson (Century) and Anna Magnotto (Lourdes/Schaefer).

Gores is regarded as one of the top racers in the state.

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