When the Champlain Valley Union High School alpine ski program headed to Smuggler’s Notch Resort on Wednesday, March 17, the boys’ and girls’ teams sat in two different positions — one held a solid lead, the other was trailing in third place.
By the time the Redhawks left the hill, they both held the same position as state champions.
“They all rose to the occasion,” said CVU alpine ski coach Mike Minnerly. “It was really remarkable. They delivered in a big way.”
The CVU boys captured their first ever state title, behind an all-around effort that saw the team place five skiers in the top 15 in the giant slalom event on Wednesday, too.
Sean Gilliam led the way in second place overall, while Peter Gilliam (fifth), Ari Diamond (seventh), Remy Schultz (12th) and Seth Boffa (14th) all came across the finish line with strong finishes to pull CVU away from second-place St. Johnsbury.
“We talked to our kids, we said ‘ski as a team,’” Minnerly said. “We don’t have the luxury of going down the hill and throwing all caution to the wind and just hoping for the best. If we stand up and we ski clean, we will be in good shape.”
The Redhawks had set themselves up for a successful GS day with a solid start during Monday’s slalom races. Boffa finished in ninth place, while Sean Gilliam came in 12th and Ethan Lisle was 14th to put CVU solidly in third after the first day of competition — but they sat just six points behind the leader.
“With this scoring system, six points, that’s nothing,” Minnerly said. “We didn’t ski ourselves out of it on the first day. We were in a good spot.”
On the other side, the CVU girls were sitting pretty after the first day of competition. Olivia Zubarik’s second place finish in the slalom, followed quickly by Dicey Manning in fourth place, had the Redhawks with a solid 16 point lead over second place Rice.
But then on the second day, a couple of did-not-finishes from Zubarik and Emma Lisle had CVU second guessing themselves.
“On the last day both Olivia and Ella DNF and we were like, oh boy, you know, this is going to be closer than we thought it was,” Minnerly said. “Then the other girls just skied so well, it really made up the difference.”
Manning delivered the first big performance, coming in fifth place, followed by Charlotte Couperthwaite in 14th place and Kate Kogut in 22nd — delivering enough big points to clinch the title.
“Dicey has been coming through all year long. She was remarkably consistent and reliable,” Minnerly said. “We knew what we were going to get just about every time. We knew we were going to get a low number when she came down.”
With the two state championship wins, the Redhawks also captured the combined title, the first time a team has done that by winning both state championships.
“We’ve been fortunate,” Minnerly said.