January 25, 2012 - By Joe St. Henry
Senior Marie Dohm. Photo by Dan Teetor (click for larger version)
Mother Nature may not be fully cooperating but, thanks to snow machines, the Lake Orion ski team has enjoyed its season so far.
"The general public may not like this kind of ski weather, but we've only had to cancel two or three practices and one meet," said Head Coach Derek Delzer. "Pine Knob has done a really nice job of keeping snow on the hill this year.
"Believe it or not, the technology has progressed to the point that, in some respects, the manmade snow is better to ski on than the real stuff."
What has hurt the team, according to the coach, is the long holiday break. The Dragon skiers have only practiced a few times together because Pine Knob was busy then with recreational skiers.
It appears, however, the lack of formal practice has not hurt the Dragon boys' ski team. It sports a 5-0 record in the Pine Knob Division of high school ski teams, while the girls' team has a respectable 2-3 record.
On Jan. 19, both squads beat Waterford United's skiers. The boys prevailed 22-55 and girls skied to a 25-62 victory (lowest score wins). The high school skiers compete in both slalom and giant slalom races.
This week, Lake Orion competes against Cranbrook, Detroit Country Day and Rochester Adams. Over the weekend, Delzer is splitting the team to compete in both the Boyne City and Lakeland Invitational ski meets up north.
On Jan. 30, the Dragons are hosting the inaugural Lake Orion Ski Invitational at Mount Holly. They also will be skiing against rival Clarkston that week.
"We have an exciting team that is competing in a competitive field," Delzer said. "Most of our races have been really close. There's really no dominate team this year."
Youth is dominating the Lake Orion boys' roster, he said, led by junior Dalton Stetsko and sophomores Justin Klaus and Ricky Mackowski. There is only one senior racing.
"Our boys are really strong this year," Delzer added, noting they finished third in regional competition last year. "In any given week, we'll have a handful at the top and you never know who that may be."
On the girls' side, senior Marie Dohm is leading Lake Orion's charge down the slopes.
"Marie is having a great season so far," said the head coach. "She has this competitive drive and winning instinct, plus she is very coachable. She just wins a lot of races."
Other notable female skiers are Alex Bergquist who, according to her coach, has "really improved" in just her second year of ski racing. Delzer also noted the performance of junior Paige Sullins.
"This is a young girls team," he noted. "We graduated a lot of seniors last year and are looking for a supporting cast behind Marie."
As the regular season's end approaches, Delzer is simply looking for weekly improvement from each skier.
"As well as the boys are skiing right now, there's always room for improvement," said the coach. "In their line choices, for example.
"I'm looking for the girls to improve in the giant slalom, in particular, and skiing fast."
On real or manmade snow, the Dragon ski team is turning up the heat on its competitors this winter.