Coaches and members of the 2004
Sun Valley Cross Country Comp Team strike a pose during the season.
Courtesy photo by Dave Wheelock
A fond farewell to a super ski
Cross country ski team
stages awards banquet
By JODY ZARKOS
Express Staff Writer
Faced with a passel of carbo-loaders,
Anita Cleveland was panicking five minutes into the Sun Valley nordic
ski team’s banquet that there was not enough food for the 225-strong
Chalk it up to a conditioned
response from a mother of three boys, but there was plenty of lasagna,
laughs and love to go around.
Staged at Sun Valley’s Limelight
Room Tuesday night, the nordic banquet was held in honor of the 126
athletes on the three local cross country teams: Comp, Prep and Devo.
A slide show by coach and
photographer Dave Wheelock was shown throughout the night and
beautifully chronicled the many adventures, races and experiences the
kids had throughout the season at places such as Bruneau Sand Dunes,
Glacier National Park and West Yellowstone.
Sun Valley Nordic Director Rick
Kapala commented on the display.
"The slides speak a lot of the
breath of experiences we try and incorporate. Cross country skiing is
way more than just cross country skiing. Thanks to the parents for
cutting your kids loose and letting us challenge them."
Kapala also extended hearty thanks
to SVSEF board members, staff, coaches, volunteers, trail groomers and
parents, including "supermoms" Anita Cleveland and Pepin Corso-Harris.
The evening commenced with the
annual senior speeches, most of which were so heartfelt and sentimental
that Kleenex was an absolute necessity.
Morgan Arritola remembered her
teammates for "sharing not only a love of working hard, but playing
hard." Chase Cleveland said his "life as a skier has been nothing but
Alex Hamlin lauded his coaches for
teaching him the meaning of "motivation, dedication and punishment," and
the lesson "a winner doesn’t set limits. A winner sets goals."
Jack Harris said that being part
of the cross country team "was probably the best thing that ever
happened to me" and he "looked forward to every single day of ski team."
George Livingston, Erin Magee and
David Vanderpool also presented their thoughts and thanks.
Magee was especially graceful in
acknowledging her parents for always wanting her to just have fun.
Frasier Opel, the eighth senior on
the squad, was not on hand for the banquet.
Before presenting the awards to
the Comp team members, Kapala noted that the team experienced tremendous
success over the season, including sending more athletes to junior
nationals than any other team or club (15).
"When anyone on our team
experiences success, it belongs to everyone," he said.
Morgan Arritola and Jack Harris
were voted "Most Inspirational" by their teammates. Arritola and Harris
joined David Vanderpool and Alexa Turzian as "Most Outstanding."
In presenting the award, coach Pat
Casey said, "On a team like this it is hard to choose an award like
this. These people are all extremely hard workers, motivated and they
try and absorb as much as they can."
Erin Magee and George Livingston
were the Engl Award recipients.
The honor is given to the persons
who exemplify athletics, sportsmanship, dedication and support of their
"These are people who get the
bigger picture," Kapala said. "They are well-rounded people who are
using skiing as a vehicle."
The "Coach’s Award" was given to
Lexie Praggastis, Luke Pletcher and Reid Pletcher.
Erin McQueen, Alex Hamlin and
Chase Cleveland were named "Most Improved."
"Rookie of the Year" went to Conor
Davis and Mali Noyes.
Reid Pletcher also bagged the
coveted "NARDO" award with accompanying tacky jacket for inadvertently
pulling off the most stupid pet tricks.
Defending NARDO champion Pat Casey
noted that there were some "valiant attempts" at the NARDO by Dawson
Paschall, Kapala and coach Ali Deines. But the award belonged to
Pletcher for using Courtney Perry’s skis at JN’s (before her race) and
breaking the van window while trying to get a Frisbee out of a tree.
Rookie Prep team coach Abi Holt
said she a little apprehensive before the season started, but "it was a
"It turned out to be a really
fantastic season," she said.
Nellie Brown and Max Durtschi were
named "Most Improved." The "Rookie of the Year" award went to Madison
Deffe and Nicol Wheeler.
Bronwen Raff and Travis Job were
"Outstanding Girl and Boy."
The "Coach’s Award" was given to
Julie Bowman, Courtney Hamilton and Scotty Phelan.
Raff, Phelan and Durtschi were
voted "Most Inspirational."
Phelan and Durtschi presented Holt
and assistant coach Jeremy Fryberger with the "Scotty and Max" award for
"Most Inspirational Coach".
The certificate noted, "You have
achieved the highest award possible."
Coach Dave Bingham handed out the
Devo team honors
"It was a fantastic year and a
really neat experience being back with the team," Bingham expressed.
"Most Outstanding Skiers" were Ben
Kanellitsas and Sloan Storey at Lake Creek and Andrew Graves and Kaitlyn
Landis at Quigley Canyon."
Lake Creek skiers Sloan Storey and
Calder Zarkos were named "Most Inspirational" by their peers, as were
Joel Rinckwald and Catherine Henry.
"Coach’s Award" recipients were
Maggie Williams and Eric Runkel at Lake Creek and Joel Rinckwald and
Miranda Stopol at Quigley.
"Most Improved" skiers were Jake
Adicoff, Zoey Olbum, Jimmy Holcomb and Cheyanne Stopol.
Devo team members garnered big
laughs in innocently presenting gift certificates as awards to their
"This award goes to Laurie (Leman)
for being so much fun and giving us candy," said one little skier from
behind the podium.
One race remains for the elite
skiers on the team, the International Spring Series March 27-April 4 at
Winter Park, Colo.