High School Skiers Near Return to Mt. Ashland For First Time In Two Years

After a lack of snow last year forced southern Oregon's high school skiers to Mt. Bachelor every weekend, an early 2018 opening for Mt. Ashland has them nearing a return to their home mountain.

Posted: Dec 9, 2018 9:16 PM

MEDFORD—Snow athletes have always been an optimistic bunch.

"I would say I'm probably one of the most optimistic people here about snow," said Crater junior Gracen Hokanson.

"I'm always like, ‘Oh there's a possibility of it raining?’ I'm like, ‘Yes that's a chance that there could be snow in our forecast,’" said North Medford senior Tanner Houck.

It’s optimism in the face of a serious lack of snow last year.

So little now that the team had to spend every weekend in Bend, making the 3.5-hour commute to Mt. Bachelor.

The hope is that this year is different, and these high school skiers hope to return to Mt. Ashland next weekend.

"In a ski coach's perfect world we would like to have three or four feet of snow so we can stick our gates into the ground and have them secure because we have 50 or 60 skiers altogether and they will be going on the same path and sometimes that wears the snow down,” said head coach Gary King. “I made a calendar three months ago but can I predict what the snow's going to be? No."

For now, they’ll continue to stick to dryland training. That way their ski muscles are ready for the mountain once the mountain is ready for them.

"We design the conditioning to not only get them stronger, build endurance, build agility, but also to prevent injury,” King said. “We have certain agility drills that we do that strengthen and stretch out the ligaments and tendons."

"It gets old pretty quick just because we're all super ready for snow and we just want to get up there and ski," said Cascade Christian senior Haylee DeBoer.

Relief is on the way—their optimism and hard work set to pay off when they soon return to their home mountain for the first time in two years.

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