Ski, slalom, slopes


Senior Jenna Kozal competes on giant slalom slopes at Mt. Brighton at the ski team’s first competition of the season against Birmingham United. Photo by Clare Jones

The Mercy Ski team has finally began their anticipated season after struggling to have the correct weather conditions that allow for the skiers to enjoy what they love to do. Although the season is only about six weeks long, the dedication put in by the team does not go unnoticed. Before the season starts, the team begins to strengthen their physical conditions before trying the slopes. 

“We do dry land conditioning, use the ski machine, stairs, and calisthenics,” said senior and four-year skier Jenna Kozal. “Endurance is key, but technique is so important.” 

Kozal, like many of the other 15 skiers on the team, has been skiing since she was very young. In her first competition, despite dislocating her knee the day before, Kozal finished her first meet strong, with a time of 20.33 seconds during her first race that evening. She placed 21st overall. 

The first meet was held at Mount Brighton and was against Birmingham United. Both teams competed on the giant slalom slopes. The Marlins did well overall. Some of the fastest ski times were achieved by sophomore Sadie MillerWright going 18.58 in her second run, placing her in eighth place, and senior Marina Lamphier going 19.89 on her first run, landing her in fifteenth place overall. After both teams completed their first and second skis down the giant slalom, Mercy tied with Birmingham United. 

“It’s been really fun to ski for Mercy,” said Sadie MillerWright. “It is a great team and the girls and coaches are always amazing.” 

MillerWright also commented on finishing in the top ten in her first race of the season saying, “I think I skied well.” 

Many of these dedicated athletes have to drive for more than 45 minutes to get to Mount Brighton, the location they practice and compete at the majority of the time. Junior Kathleen Ruffing resides in Grosse Pointe. Ruffing drives about two hours a day in her commute to school, to Mt. Brighton, and back home.

“It’s difficult to commute but it’s worth it,” she said. “[Skiing] is a really good [way to pass] time and feel like you get a lot done. Of course you’re tired at the end of the day, but for me it’s just a [form of] therapy and escape. And for the run down the hill—those 10-15 seconds are heaven.”  

The team practices Mondays and Wednesdays and has competitions Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Mercy Ski team also sometimes practices with Detroit Catholic Central since they both share the same coach, Tom Gable. Coach Gable has coached Mercy’s ski team for many years and has led them to numerous Catholic League Championships and State competitions. He recently was awarded the Bill Miilu Lifetime Achievement Award at the Michigan High School Ski Coaches Association (MHSSCA) for his excellent work. 

“He cares about our well-being,” said Lamphier.

The ski team beat Howell in a slalom competition at Mt. Brighton on Jan. 14, with MillerWright andMarina Lamphier having some of the top finishes of the night.