BRANDON CANEVARI

Manchester Journal

MANCHESTER -- About a week from now the Burr and Burton Academy Alpine boys and girls ski teams will attempt to complete their own individual missions when they compete in the State Championship early next month.

For the boys, it will be to complete their quest to win four consecutive state championships; for the girls, to achieve the elusive goal of capturing their first in several years.

On the boys side, there are five seniors - Ben Alexopoulos, Skylar Clark, Tanner McGrath, Andrew Sherras and Tim Swinarton - who have been anchoring the team since they were freshmen and BBA coach Trey Spencer said they would like nothing more than to go out on top.

"They were talking about it in the fall, That’s definitely something that they were targeting, that they are targeting. They want it. They really want it," he said. "It would be awesome for those to graduate out having been part of a team that won four years in a row. I’d love to see them have that." As for the girls, Spencer said focusing on skiing their best run was going to be instrumental in winning a state title.

"They just simply need to ski as best they can with a lot of focus and that’s been the battle for them the whole season really," said Spencer. "Bring as much focus as you can at the start and leave everything you have on the hill"

In an interview on Tuesday, Spencer said he had gone to the Northern District Championships on Monday and watched the slalom and said there is some good competition in the north.

Going into the State Championship, Spencer said he believed Mount Mansfield Union would be the biggest rival of the boys team.

"The men’s team, they’re pretty strong," said Spencer. "And their women’s team has won I don’t know how many years. They have a very strong women’s team. So I think those are going to be the top ones to worry about."

South Burlington and Champlain Valley Union (CVU) are also teams Spencer said he expects to be very competitive on the girls side.

"They’ve all got some athletes," said Spencer. "We’re just hoping we’re a little bit deeper."

Spencer said they resumed team practices again on Monday and so far they have been focusing a lot on giant slalom. The reason, he said, is not only because it will be the first event that the team will compete in at the State Championship, but because the giant slalom course at Middlebury - which will be held on Monday, March 3, is quite difficult. As a result, Spencer said the athletes will have to bring their A game when it comes to that event.

"The trail is called Allen and it is a NCAA level hill. So, it will be extremely challenging," said Spencer. "For anyone who hasn’t skied there before, there is one particular ski pitch that will get your heart rate up. "

The slalom part of the State Championship will take place at Burke Mountain on Wednesday, March 5.

The team has only had a couple days of team practice since coming back from winter vacation. Even though Spencer said he would like to seem them turn up the intensity over the coming week, he is pleased with what he’s seen so far.

Going into the championship - just as he said focus will be important for the women’s team - Spencer said he believes that the consistency the men’s team has shown throughout the year will be important in order for them to claim a fourth consecutive state title.

"[They need to] ski solid. Same as they’ve skied all season. Just ski solid," said Spencer. "If they ski the way they’ve skied it should be a good championship series."