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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Friday — March 26, 2004


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 season

Cross country ski team
stages awards banquet

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 throng.

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 good times."

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 teammates.

"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.

Prep Team

Rookie Prep team coach Abi Holt said she a little apprehensive before the season started, but "it was a blast."

"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."

Devo Team

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 coaches.

"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.


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