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CEC Alpine skiing in full swing

CLOQUET, Minn. - Cruising down a hill at sub-zero temperatures sounds crazy for most. But not for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton alpine ski team; they absolute love it. High school alpine skiing - or for many who know it as downhill skiing - consists o...

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Cloquet freshman Anthony Schrier races for CEC Thursday at Mont du Lac. The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys and girls alpine ski teams are led by Nick Grames, Kyle Manney, John Green, Tanner Franklin, Alex DeRocher, Eliza Grames, Katrina Anderson and Kelsey Anderson. With their numbers better than ever this year, the CEC alpine ski team is said to be one of the best, and the boys have a shot at winning the conference. [Lisa Baumann / Pine Journal]

CLOQUET, Minn. - Cruising down a hill at sub-zero temperatures sounds crazy for most.

But not for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton alpine ski team; they absolute love it.

High school alpine skiing - or for many who know it as downhill skiing - consists of 20 skiers per team, 10 boys and 10 girls. After the race is complete, individual results are recorded, while the top four boys and girls times are tallied to determine each of the boys and the girls team results and places.

The bottom line is, well, the CEC Alpine skiers this year are good - really good.

"This is the best group of skiers I have ever had," said seventh-year head coach Ryan Zimny, about his boys and girls teams. "They know how to have fun, but they're definitely working hard."

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So far this season, the Lumberjacks have competed in four meets - consisting of anywhere from 10 to 12 teams - in which the boys have placed second three times, while the girls have fared near the middle of the pack all season long.

The boys squad is led by a handful of Esko standouts, including seniors Nick Grames and Kyle Manney, as well as juniors John Green and Tanner Franklin and seventh-grade standout Alex DeRocher.

Green guides the boys, as he places consistently within the top-10 every race, while Grames and DeRocher are solid finishers and Manney and Franklin provide a spark in the fourth position from time to time.

"The boys are racing really well right now," said Zimny. "If they keep at it, they'll have a shot to win the conference this season."

As for the girls, the 'Jacks are led by Esko senior Eliza Grames, as well as Carlton junior Katrina Anderson and Cloquet freshman Kelsey Anderson.

"We have a lot of young skiers on the team," said Zimny about his girls club. "Though young, they're definitely improving as the year goes on."

This season, the Lumberjacks' turnout has been one of the best, as more kids are on the team than in recent years - 29 total - and even though young - including 13 skiers still in middle school - Zimny has high hopes for his talented team in the future.

"We definitely have a lot of numbers and are better than ever," said Zimny about his group of downhill enthusiasts. "We have a ton of young talent on the team, so the future of our program is looking good."

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With just a pair of meets left until the Lake Superior Conference meet, Zimny is hoping for the best.

"The kids have great attitudes and have been working very hard all season long," said Zimny. "This is the time of year when it all comes together."

CEC will take their slalom skills - flying downhill at nearly 30 to 40 miles per hour - back into action Thursday, Jan. 15, when they are scheduled to race at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Minn., before they travel to Spirit Mountain for their final regular season meet of the year on Monday, Jan. 19.

The LSC meet is scheduled for Jan. 22 at Mont du Lac in Superior, Wis., while both the section (Feb. 2) and state (Feb. 12) meets will be held at same venue they have been at for the past decade, Giants Ridge.

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