ME Girls Ski Team Finding its Footing


This relatively mild winter – this past weekend being the exception – has provided another challenge during a winter season that seems to be filled with them.

“The turning point was getting some snow on the ground for us to practice on,” explains ME girls ski coach Molly Friedman, now about midway through her first season as head coach of the Hornets.  “Once we got on the hill and I had the opportunity to see the girls on snow, I was thoroughly impressed by the skills the girls possess.”

Once there was snow to work with, the Hornets have had to work overtime to overcome the later-than-usual start, as well as a small roster (compared to the bigger schools in the sport) looking to impress a new coach.  While the team is 0-3 so far during a seven-race season, this group has the potential to make great strides before the season ends on February 13 against Newburyport.

“We're a small group of 12 girls this year, all filled with eagerness and talent,” says Friedman.  “It's a team sport, but also an individual one that makes things a little complicated.  Myself and the girls are focusing on how we do as a whole and how many points we can accumulate, but also on how each girl did individually and what she can work on for the next race.”

The Hornets are lead by captain Lydia Schwartz, with a handful of juniors and sophomores, along with some middle-schoolers along to fill out the final roster.

“We're a young team which gives me a lot of hope of growing the program and growing with the girls,” says Friedman.  “This year I am focusing on getting familiar with the programs and the girls in hope of pushing them the following years and growing as well.  Don't be fooled by the young ones – they're fierce and full of potential.”

The team’s top performers rank among the Hornets’ most and least experienced skiers.

“Our lone senior and captain, Lydia Schwartz, is a veteran of the program,” explains Friedman.  “She's been racing for ME since seventh grade and loves the sport.  Kiernan Day is in eighth grade and is our top racer.  Watching her first race gave me the chills.  She's a silent killer and I can't wait to watch her progress through the program.”

The rest of the roster is figuring itself out and finding ways to advance both personally and as a member of the squad.

“Each race presents a new top list,” says the coach.  “I'm loving how our seeding changes with each race because that means the girls are pushing themselves and striving to perform better.  That's also what's great about the sport, maybe our top racer has a bad day but that leaves it open for someone else to snag the top spot.  All the girls are filled with so much talent and love for the sport and that's what it's about.  Working as a team and loving the sport.”

While the potential is there individually, depth is crucial in this sport: Teams with more athletes (i.e., bigger schools like North Andover and Masconomet) simply have more opportunities to earn points because they have more skiers.

“Our weakness is that we're small,” says Friedman.  “Schools like Masco and North Andover are just made up of more athletes with more opportunities to win points.”

The ME girls alpine ski team finished 2-10 last winter, and finished fifth in the North Shore Ski League Interscholastic Race.  There are some opportunities to at least match the win total before the season is through: Aside from the season-ender at Newburyport next week, a dual-matchup with Hamilton-Wenham and Newburyport was slated for February 6, and slalom races against Haverhill and North Andover come after that.

“Races are tough, it's one run when typical races are two runs, and you have to quickly inspect the course and mentally get ready,” explains Friedman.  “Our on-mountain practices are where the girls really open up and shine and that's where they'll build their confidence for those race days.”

newburyport, milliradian, molly friedman, captain, racer, head coach, coach, ski, hornets, lydia schwartz, kiernan day