Sailors skiers racking up state-worthy finishes

Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat Springs High School senior Andrew McCawley races down the course last week at Copper Mountain.
Chuck Coffey, courtesy

— Mike Farny said he almost didn’t realize what he was walking in on when he took over as the head coach of the Steamboat Springs High School Alpine skiing team a year ago.

That squad was stocked with seniors who quickly and regularly proved they were among the best skiers in the state, repeatedly winning races and earning top-10 finishes.

A year later, Farny’s working through a different kind of season with an entirely different kind of team. With the state championships set to take place next month in Steamboat Springs, the Sailors are scurrying to qualify as many skiers as possible to the big event.

“We’re a pretty young team, but the kids are progressing and improving,” Farny said. “It’s exciting having state championships here this year, so they’ll compete on Howelsen Hill and Mount Werner, hills they should know pretty well.”

The team is heading Friday into its fourth event of the season, a slalom race at Ski Cooper near Leadville. Steamboat will be looking to expand upon its roster of state-qualified skiers.

So far, the team is set to send five boys and four girls in giant slalom and slalom.

Seniors Andrew McCawley and Alex Coffey, the two top returning skiers from last year’s boys team, have led the way early for the Sailors. McCawley most recently was second at a Copper Mountain slalom. Coffey was seventh in that same race.

Both of those skiers are qualified in both slalom and giant slalom.

“It’s fun having those guys as seniors and having a second year with them,” Farny said. “They’re both skiing great right now. Andrew is in the top three at all the races. He hasn’t won one yet, but he’s right there. Alex, he has a lot of potential, but he’s always skiing on the edge of disaster. He’s doing a great job this year being more consistent, and if he keeps building on that, he can step up his skiing without being out of control.”

Wyatt Reynolds, Kelly Ryan and Nolan Sankey all also have recorded GS finishes high enough to get them to state.

Alessandra Peliari, an exchange student, has shined on the girls side. She was fourth in the most recent race at Copper Mountain and has qualified for state in both slalom and GS.

“She’s more used to skiing on really hard snow and more challenging courses and so she’s having a hard time adapting to the softer, easier courses and over-skiing them a little bit,” Farny said. “She’s starting to realize she can win these races, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Amy Spear and Ella Pietras have also qualified in slalom while Pietras and AnnMari Hackworthy are both in for GS.

After Friday’s trip to Ski Cooper the team will compete at Keystone Feb. 2 in a giant slalom and in a slalom Feb. 10 at Loveland. The state championships are set for Feb. 23 and 24 in Steamboat Springs.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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