If there was one person who was particularly happy about the winter storm that dropped close to three feet of snow before the holidays, it was Shawn Cotter, the new head coach of the varsity alpine ski team at Broadalbin-Perth. In Cotter’s first year as head coach, he said the fresh snow put their home course at Oak Mountain (in Speculator, NY) in prime shape for team practices and overall, provided the team with a great kickstart to their season.
Cotter is no stranger to coaching. He has been a middle school physical education teacher with the Broadalbin-Perth school district for 21 years and during that time, coached modified football for 18 years and modified baseball for about ten years. For the past two years, he was an assistant coach for the alpine ski team at the Greater Johnstown School District, where his wife Cory is the principal of Pleasant Avenue Elementary.
Matt O’Brien, owner of the team’s home facility Oak Mountain, coached the B-P team last year in its inaugural season and serves as the assistant coach for this year’s team.
The alpine ski program is only in its second year of existence at B-P, but it is a sport that the district has been working to build for several years.
“Our school is perfectly situated at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, and is in close proximity to several ski mountains, which made the addition of this sport a logical step for our district,” said Tucker Gifford, B-P’s director of health, physical education, athletics and nursing. “We started building the framework for this team years ago, putting resources into supporting youth skiing, so we would eventually have athletes who could compete at the varsity level.”
Gifford added, “We’re lucky to have someone like Shawn at the helm this year. He has the experience to teach the sport to our student athletes, and the right mix of dedication and patience to help the team grow over the next few years.”
This year’s team is young and small in numbers, consisting of just four varsity student-athletes — two girls (one in eighth grade and one in ninth grade) and two boys (also, one in eighth grade and one in ninth grade). There are ten 8th graders who are part of the modified practice squad and travel to Oak Mountain with the varsity skiers five days a week for practice.
“This is definitely a building year for the team,” Cotter said. “But the future looks strong because we’ve been able to build the program from the bottom up, introduce the sport at the youth level and prepare this group of modified student-athletes for competition at the varsity level in the next year or two.”
Alpine skiing at the high school level in New York state features two different types of downhill races — slalom and giant slalom — both consisting of a winding, zigzagging course with gates that the skiers need to navigate. The giant slalom gates are spaced further apart, allowing the skiers to go a bit faster. Outside of high school competition, skiers also participate in super-G, in which the gates are placed even further apart and the focus is more on speed.
In Section 2, there are 14 schools that offer competitive alpine skiing. During a typical race season, school teams would participate in about seven invitational-style race events. Much like everything else though, COVID has changed the look of team racing.
This season, there is a cap of 100 skiers per race, which means that girls and boys will now race on separate days. Teams will only compete in three events this season, but will double up on the number of runs they complete at each event, and use those times to count towards races that otherwise wouldn’t be held. Additionally, there will be no postseason for the alpine ski team — no league titles, no sectionals, and no state tournament.
Cotter said they are always looking for more student-athletes to try alpine skiing and made it clear that they are willing to help out any student who needs assistance securing the necessary equipment.
“I would hate for a student to not give this sport a try just because they don’t have skis or boots,” Cotter said. “As a district and a community, we will all work together to make sure each student has what they need.”
The girls alpine ski team kicks off their season on January 13 at West Mountain, with the boys team’s first races being held January 18 at Gore Mountain. Mr. Gifford will be live streaming some of B-P’s alpine ski team races this season, on the athletics department’s Instagram account.
To see the latest sports schedule, go to the “Schedules and Rosters” link on the athletics page (https://www.bpcsd.org/athletics/) and make sure to follow the B-P athletics department on Instagram (@bp.athletics) and Twitter (@BPpatriotsAD).
2020-2021 Alpine Ski Team Roster:
Varsity Girls: Haley Tomlinson (9th grade), Hannah Nolett (8th grade)
Varsity Boys: Tyler Osterhout (9th grade), Nicholas Georgelos (8th grade)
JV Boys: Colin Cotter (9th grade)
Modified Practice Girls and Boys (all 8th graders): Jillian Sanford, Emilia Murphy, Laurell Mitchell, Josie Arcuri, Brady Cotter, Jack Samek, William Ribar, Jake Morin, Kyle Dunlap, Coulson Park