With fresh snow on the ground and just in time, the Wyoming High School Nordic Skiing season begins this weekend for Laramie High School.

This year is about taking steps forward with more veteran teams. Head coach Rebecca Watson is entering her 15th season at the helm of the program. She’s seen her program develop with highs and lows, but believes their foundation is strong.

Watson says the generation knowledge seems to really make a difference.

“Just that leadership and what everybody’s doing to educate the new freshman coming on has been huge. Just having that experience on the team really makes a huge difference.”

There are 49 kids out for the team this winter with nine total seniors leading the charge. One of them is returning two-time state champion Liam McInroy, who won both races at the state meet last February.

Watson feels he’ll be fine, even with a target on him, as the skier to beat.

“One thing I love about what Liam does is he just continues to train, and he continues to work. He just knows there’s no magic bullets, and he just gets out and does the hard work and puts in the hours.

McInroy along with senior Albert Steiner and junior Sam Fay form a strong base for the Plainsmen in 2017-18. Watson says for them to contend, their depth has to come up, as a whole pack, and step up together.

The Lady Plainsmen were young last year, and Watson says having more leadership will make a difference with their whole season and their mentality. One of their top skiers will be sophomore Abigail Whitman, who was top 10 in both races at state last season.

As a team, Laramie finished third and fourth, respectively, in the boys and girls standings at the 2017 State Championships.

LHS wants to improve on that, but the competition from Jackson and Natrona County will tough to compete against.

McInroy and Whitman joined KOWB’s David Settle to discuss the new season. McInroy talked about defending his titles, while Whitman feels they’re a better all-around team.

The new season will take Laramie to Casper, Cody, Lander, Pinedale and Soldier Hollow, UT. They will host the 2018 Nordic State Championships Feb. 23 and 24 in the area.

Watson says that will be big.

“I just can’t really tell you what it does for the athletes to be on their own home course with skiing. You just get to know every hill, every corner, every flat, how to ski it, what techniques best, and just be able to hone in that race strategy. I’m really excited, especially for my seniors to get a home course advantage.”

First things first, a trip to Casper for competition Friday and Saturday. Their next competition won’t happen until after the first of the year.