YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Steady improvement is expected from this year’s Yorktown skiing team, which was scheduled to start its season, Wednesday, Jan. 8, in its first slalom race at Thunder Ridge. Its first giant slalom race is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 9, at Mohawk Mountain.

“Overall, this will definitely be a building year for us, as it takes lots of drill work and gate training to learn the skills necessary for slalom and giant slalom racing,” said Yorktown coach Wendy Nufer. “Many of our athletes also need to master some of the fundamentals needed to be a strong skier, in general. However, the skiers we have on the team this season are strong athletes in the various other sports in which they compete, and they have been working very hard during both our dry land training season, in the few days we’ve had on snow thus far. Given their demonstrated effort and dedication, with additional time and experience, I’m sure they will continue to improve steadily throughout the season.”

The boys squad comes off a season where they finished 12-2 and were tied with John Jay/North Salem for second place in the Northern League of 20 teams from Westchester and Putnam counties. Scarsdale finished in first.

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The Huskers’ No. 1 boys’ skier is senior captain Spencer Schutz, who is in his fourth year on the team. Last year he earned All-League honors while placing 21st in slalom, 26th in the giant slalom, and 21st place in the combined slalom and giant slalom, in the sectionals.

“Spencer is hoping to make top 15 at sectionals, and possibly earn one of the top 11 qualifying slots on the Section 1 team, that will be competing at the state championships,” Nufer said. “It’s difficult to predict how racers will do at sectionals, because it depends on how many competitors of similar rank will be returning this year, and how many have already graduated.”

Three other top returning skiers whose goal is to qualify for the sectionals are junior Kevin Kouril, who is a four-year varsity skier, and sophomore Eddie Schluter, and freshman Matthew McGovern, who are each in their second varsity campaigns.

Another top returnee is senior Pashtrik Gjokaj.

Sophomore Collin Montesano and eighth graders, Reilly Doller, Cameron O’Brien, James Callaghan, Connor Reardon, and JohnPaul Sateriale, are the Huskers’ boys’ top newcomers.

The top girls’ skier is sophomore Christine Aery, with last year being her first on the team.

“She listened well, worked hard, and improved steadily, and by the end of the season she had earned All-League honors and competed at the sectionals,” Nufer said.

At last year’s sectionals, Aery was 22nd for her two runs combined in the slalom, and 37th for her two runs combined in the giant slalom.

“This year I’m sure she’ll be looking to make the top 15 in slalom and top 20 in the giant slalom,” Nufer said.

Another top returnee is junior captain Hannah McGovern, who earned All-League honors and competed at sectionals a season ago. She is in her fourth year on the varsity team.

McGovern is currently on medical leave from competition due to having had back surgery for scoliosis, in October.

“We’re hoping for her continued, speedy recovery and strengthening through her physical therapy, so that she’ll be able to return to ski sometime this January,” Nufer said.

Also returning is sophomore Alexis Ulbrich, a third-year varsity skier, who also underwent back surgery for scoliosis last March, and is now adjusting to skiing and racing with what Nufer describes as a “brand new back.”

“We’re real proud of the hard work both Alexis and Hannah have put in and the progress they have made following their surgeries,” Nufer said. “The post-operative recovery from back surgery is a painful, arduous process, made even more challenging given that they are both top students taking demanding courses at YHS, as well as being musicians performing in high school musical groups.”

Sophomores, Julia Sateriale and Marina Wheeler, and freshman Kaitlinn Campana, are the Huskers’ top girls’ newcomers.