Storm, Bombers open nordic ski season

Lake Placid’s Scott Schulz, followed by Saranac Lake’s Lauchlan Cheney-Seymour, nears the finish line of the first nordic ski race of the season Wednesday at Dewey Mountain in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake and Lake Placid nordic ski teams gathered at Dewey Mountain Wednesday for the first ski race of the season, and athletes and coaches alike were thrilled to be on snow in December after several years of late snow accumulation.

With Tuesday’s rain, the course was shortened to a 2.5-kilometer loop for the varsity teams, while the modified boys and girls did a 2k.

The varsity boys were evenly matched, with Lake Placid claiming two of the top five spots. Scott Schulz was the first across the line with a time of 6 minutes, 51 seconds, while Saranac Lake’s Lauchlan Cheney-Seymour was close on his heels at 6:52. Lake Placid’s Kai Frantz (7:06) was third and also came across the line just a second ahead of the Red Storm’s Nick Kelting. Saranac Lake’s Jacob Alberga rounded out the top five with a time of 7:16.

On the girls side, Lake Placid was the dominant team, earning four of the top five slots. Marli Damp (8:25) was the fastest girl on the night, finishing well ahead of teammate Sarah Rose-McCandlish (9:19). Lilly Flannigan claimed third with a time of 9:31, while eighth- grader Annie Rose-McCandlish was fourth at 9:55. Saranac Lake eighth- grade standout Evelyn Eller placed fifth with a time of 10:26.

The state championships for nordic skiing are slated to be in the Rochester area, which puts local kids at a disadvantage since the course will likely be flat while Saranac Lake and Lake Placid skiers are built for hills. But Sarah Rose-McCandlish said she and her team will utilize local venues, like Mount Van Hoevenberg, that have some flat trails to get ready for the state meet.

Lake Placid’s Marli Damp completes her first place run at Dewey Mountain. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“I really, really like it. The whole summer I was just waiting for the snow again,” she said. “I’m really, really happy that we have Van Ho[evenberg] and they have the snow machine this year so we’ve gotten a lot more practice in than we would have otherwise, so I’m really thankful for that.

“We’re definitely hilly up here, so I guess we’ll just have to try on the flatter trails.”

Saranac Lake coach Keith Kogut was out on the trails late Tuesday night to get them ready for the race Wednesday, and said he’s thrilled to have his kids out on the course before Christmas.

“Any time we have enough snow to race in December, we consider it a victory,” he said. “[This] is a nice way for the two local teams to kick it off for the season.

“It’s going to be another big year for the boys, I think they have a chance to be on the podium at states. And we’ve got some real up and coming young girls. They’re not going to blow the world away this year but we’re building for the future. The future looks bright for the girls.”