The Student News Site of Fort Collins High School

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The Student News Site of Fort Collins High School

Spilled Ink

The Student News Site of Fort Collins High School

Spilled Ink

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@fchsspilledink: The Lambkin cross country team raced at FCHS this morning against other local schools. Both the boys and girls placed third.

‘Prairie Dogs’ ski team glides through challenges

The PSD nordic ski team poses for a group photo. (Photo courtesy of PSD nordic ski team)

A ski team in the heart of Fort Collins, Colorado, might be confusing to some. One weekend it’s sunny without a cloud in the sky, the next it’s a downright blizzard. This city has become accustomed to expecting the unexpected, including a Nordic Ski team.

The PSD Stars is a Nordic Ski team that has been skiing competitively in Fort Collins since 2018. 

“That’s what I really think makes our team from Fort Collins so special,” Rich Markey, Nordic Ski Assistant Coach, said. “They (teams from mountain towns) have snow and skiing right outside their door. We have to work for it and despite that fact, we are a very competitive team and we are ranked.”

The Stars mainly compete against mountain teams, such as Steamboat Springs High School and Vail Mountain School, and every PSD high school has at least one skier on the team.

“From very high-end, competitive, experienced racers to first-time never, not even at all familiar to the snow, all of those people are on our team,” Markey said.

With the growing popularity of the sport, the Nordic Ski team has around 35-60 participating high school skiers, all ranging in different skill levels and talent. One new skier—a foreign exchange student from Guatemala—joined because he was looking for a new experience. 

The Stars start their season in early November and end it on Feb. 23. Practices during the season are typically 5-6 days a week, Monday-Saturday. On weekdays, the team practices in the evening. When it comes to weekends, Saturdays vary in half days or full days up to the mountains. 

Some skiers practice beyond these organized times. For them, the season is a lifestyle.

“A lot of those competitive people train throughout the summer and the fall,” senior Ethan Cooley said. “It’s a year-round commitment rather than just showing up in the winter and doing it for a couple of months.”

Because practice is crucial to improvement, team members have to know how to train and what to do when they do not have access to snow every day.

“Early season, before snow at all, we do a lot of conditioning work,” Markey explained. “We do a lot of our technique on roller skis, so we wear the same boots and poles that we would use on the snow but our skis are shorter and they have wheels on them, kind of like roller blades.”

When the snow starts falling, the team is all over the place. On weekdays, they like to practice at Poudre on the baseball fields, and Hoedown Hill in Windsor. On the weekends they go up to the mountains of Granby, Steamboat, and Eldora, among others.

During the season, race days are typically held toward the end of the week. Several races involve staying overnight at hotels for early morning meets.

Unlike the other Nordic Ski teams, the Stars face unique challenges: a lack of snow to practice on, different skill levels, and many more. However, their ability to conquer those challenges sets them apart from the competition.

“We are no longer a joke, we call ourselves the Prairie Dogs,” Markey said. “It’s tongue and cheek, but the state knows that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

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