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Dragons on the slopes



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January 16, 2013 - By Katelyn Winkler

Review Staff Writer

The Lake Orion boys and girls ski teams went a little out of the way for this first meet of the season.

The athletes needed their gloves and hats, warm clothes, and hand warmers along with skis as the team trekked to Marquette recently for the first competition of the season.

"The Marquette invite includes some of the top teams in the state for their invitational," Coach Derek Delzer said. "They have never had a downstate team come to their invitational. We thought it would be a great way to open up our season and get some bearings for where we're at and where we're going."

Upon the teams' arrival to the Upper Peninsula, the skiers had to get used to larger north- style hills since they differed greatly from Pine Knob.

According to Delzer, anytime the skiers get the chance to go to a larger hill, it's an advantage to them. The athletes don't fully adapt to the larger hills, but it allows the athletes to know they can compete at an upper level.

"The pitch was intimidating," senior ski captain Dalton Stetsko said. "The hills here are flatter, but we adjusted to the hills well as a team."

Both the girl's and the boy's teams focused on the structure of the hill and took this meet as an opportunity to prepare for the rest of their season.

"On the warm-up days the kids got a lot of training in, and on the race days they got a lot of experience for when we, hopefully, get up to the state meet at Boyne Mountain," Delzer said. Prior to competition day, the teams were able to use their time off the slopes to get to know their teammates better and bond with one another.

"We spent time in the hot tub, went out to dinner, and got to free ski," Stetsko said. "We spent a lot of time practicing and racing, but we still watched the Fiesta Bowl game."

The time the teammates got to spend together in the hotel was not only fun, but essential for them to build camaraderie and perform well.

"When the first racer goes down [the hill], they are able to communicate to the others how they should perceive the course," Delzer said. "Knowing each other, they know what they should say about the course and what they shouldn't. It gives them confidence when they know each other."

When competition day came the Dragons were up against teams from Traverse City, Petoskey and UP schools.

The LOHS teams finished in sixth of nine teams, a showing that pleased their coach.

"We're off to a great start," Delzer said. "The challenge is going to be to keep pushing and get better as the season goes along, but so far we're off and rolling."

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