Now that the snow has arrived, so too is the skiing season. Laramie High School’s Nordic ski team begins on Saturday in Jackson.

Rebecca Watson enters her 19th season as the head coach at LHS. The Laramie boys took third and the girls took fourth at the state championships last season. A total of five skiers earned all-state honors, and only one, Tristan Smith, returns to this year’s squad.

There are 21 boys and 11 girls on the 2020-21 roster for LHS Nordic Skiing.

Watson says despite the delays it hasn’t been too tough to get the team going.

“I think everybody was just really stoked to get to train together, just to get to see each other. I just feel like there was a lot of energy, really positive energy, especially considering all the changes, things to work around, and so, I’ve just been really proud of all my athletes.”

Watson added their positive attitude has been great to see.

The team has done a lot of dryland training until recently due to a lack of snow. Now, they’re set to ski for the first time on Saturday with a 5 km skate race at the Trail Creek Nordic Center in Jackson. The racing will start at 1 p.m.

Watson describes her team this season as “super-competitive.”

“Thinking about being competitive with Jackson (who swept last year’s state championships), and what they have to do to really step it up this year.”

She attributes that to some freshman that are new to the program and some veterans who have trained well despite situations with the virus.

The first competition is something senior Sydney Holles and sophomore Emmitt Gray, are looking forward to. They spoke to KOWB’s David Settle about training, the first race, goals for the teams, and more.

Watson is keeping the approach to the opening weekend fairly simple.

“The biggest thing I’m looking for is a chance for the skiers to remember they know how to do this. We’ve skated once this year, so just a chance to say, hey, I remember how to do this and get their confidence back.”

The schedule has also been reworked. Half of the competitions split the teams at two different locations. There are two occasions that bring everyone together after this weekend, and those will be in Lander. Laramie will race in Casper, at home on Jan. 23, 2021, and in Cody. It all leads up to the state championships in Casper on Feb. 26 and 27, 2021.

Watson says, “We’re going to get a chance to race pretty much every weekend, which is different for us, but it’s going to be one race. That’s going to be more frequent racing, but less racing, so I think there’s going to be some advantages with that, too. Maybe just a chance to try something completely different.”

As for the competition, Watson knows Jackson will be tough, but Lander returns several skiers, and Natrona looks to be good.

After this weekend, Laramie will be at Casper on Jan. 9, then host, then to Cody on Feb. 12. The two weekends in Lander are Jan. 15-16 and Feb. 5-6.

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