Gene Hyde seems almost as excited about his big group of newcomers as he is about his returning state-champion veterans this season.

The Summit nordic ski coach notes that his team of 65 skiers includes 33 who are new to the squad, 22 of whom are freshmen.

“There’s some good skiers in the freshman class who will move up the ranks as the years go on and hopefully keep the Summit team nice and strong,” Hyde says. “It’s always nice to know that, and I’ll get four years to work with them. Some of them are strong skiers already and we’ll build others. It’s good to look forward to that.”

A group of talented returning skiers will also help the newcomers as the Storm boys and girls both aim for their third consecutive team state titles in the Oregon Interscholastic Ski Racing Association (OISRA).

Summit sophomore Fiona Max returns to defend her individual state championships in both freestyle and classic. Senior Samuel Schoderbek was third in freestyle and classic combined at the state championships last season, and he won the first race of the season earlier this month.

Other strong skiers returning for the Storm include Isabel Max, Fiona’s twin sister, and junior Liv Downing.

Junior Will Lange finished second in freestyle and classic combined at state last year, and junior Mario Cacciola is another fast skier who finished second in this season’s first race.

“I think we’ve got a pretty strong team, with several strong returning skiers of course,” Hyde says. “We’ve got a big team this year. It grew from 41 skiers last year to 65 this year. That’s great. I’m happy to see that.”

Hyde says he has been trying to bring along his new skiers while at the same time attempting to get the most out of the experienced skiers.

“As usual, there’s a big range of experience and skill level,” Hyde says. “Our focus at the beginning of the season is kind of bringing those newcomers up to speed … getting them to an intermediate level of skiing.”

Bend High will look to challenge Summit once again, and the Lava Bears boast a huge team of 70 skiers.

“As usual, we have a large percentage of skiers new to the sport that are learning the techniques with smiles on their faces,” says Bend assistant coach Ron Crawford.

Sophomore Ann McColgan won the first race of the year for the Lava Bears, and seniors Olivia Colton and Gemma Munck return for their fourth season.

“We have an enthusiastic group of male skiers who are always willing to push harder and go farther,” Crawford says.

Mountain View races in the Southern League of the OISRA but competes against the other Central Oregon teams (all in the Northern League) in the OISRA state championships. The Cougars graduated 17 seniors from last year’s team, so Cougar coach Eric Martin is calling this a “rebuilding year,” although the team is still a rather large squad with 51 skiers.

“We are hoping to improve on last year’s results and shooting for top three overall for boys and girls,” Martin says.

Redmond, Ridgeview and Redmond Proficiency Academy are training together this season under the banner of Redmond Community Nordic Ski Team, although each school competes separately.

“Our total number of skiers has doubled from last year and we are excited by the talent we see,” says Redmond Community coach Ken Roadman. “This year we expect the RPA girls and the Ridgeview boys to be in the top three at state.”

The Ridgeview roster includes 10 boys and six girls, RPA has six girls and Redmond has one girl.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

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