There has not been a significant snowfall yet, but area ski teams are doing what they can to prepare for the 2012-13 season.
Of course, anything has to be better than last year when snowfall was at a minimum, making it difficult for teams to practice.
For the Mayfield Panthers that means preparing their three returning state-meet skiers to form for possible repeat performances this year and improving on last year's team sectional finishes. The boys placed third last year and the girls finished fourth.
Johnstown’s Sara Kosowicz clears a gate during the first giant slalom run at the Johnstown Invitational on Feb. 11 at Royal Mountain. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Returning for Mayfield coach Ryan Bornt are Tom McClellan, who placed 28th in the 10-kilometer state race with a time of 32:03.7 for the boys team. On the girls' team, Lidija Nikollaj was 23rd in 29:39.7 on the 7.5-kilometer course. Sarah Montgomery took 26th last year in 29:59.4. All three are back this season. The only state-meet qualifier from last year's team not returning is Dave Krutz, who placed 30th in his senior season, two spots behind McClellan.
Also returning to the boys team behind McClellan are Sean Kilpatrick, Mitch Akowicz, who finished 20th at last year's sectional meet, Austin Davis and Evan King. Emily Cromie, who finished 25th at the girls' sectional race also returns, along with Karlie Edwards, who took 51st.
"The team is a great mix of experienced and beginning skiers," Bornt said. "Many members of the team entered the season fit and ready for the demands of preseason training. The team is working hard and looking forward to a snowy and competitive season."
Alpine, Nordic Skiing Schedule
Tuesday, December 18
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Johnsburg Invitational (Garnet Hill), 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, December 27
Johnstown at Christmas Race (Royal Mountain), 9:30 a.m.
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Queensbury Relays, 10 a.m.
Saturday, December 29
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Johnsburg Sprints, 10 a.m.
Saturday, January 5
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Queensbury Invitational (Crandall Park), 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, January 9
Johnstown at Queensbury Invitational (West Mountain), 5 p.m.
Friday, January 11
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Saratoga/Shenendehowa Invitational (Crandall Park), 10:30 a.m.
Monday, January 14
Johnstown at Stillwater Invitational (Willard Mountain), 5 p.m.
Wednesday, January 16
Johnstown at Niskayuna Invitational (West Mountain), 5 p.m.
Thursday, January 17
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Johnstown Invitational (Lapland Lake), 3:30 p.m.
Monday, January 21
Johnstown at Shenendehowa Invitational (Gore Mountain), 5 p.m.
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Lake George Invitational, 10 a.m.
Friday, January 25
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Guilderland Invitational (Crandall Park), 4:30 p.m.
Monday, January 28
Johnstown at Saratoga Invitational (Willard Mountain), 5 p.m.
Thursday, January 31
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Scotia-Glenville Invitational (Indian Meadows), 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 2
Johnstown at Johnstown Invitational (Royal Mountain), 9 a.m.
Wednesday, February 6
Johnstown at Make-up race (West Mountain), 5 p.m.
Friday, February 8
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Mayfield Invitational (Lapland Lake), 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 12
Johnstown at Section II Championships, TBA
Wednesday, February 13
Mayfield, Canajoharie, Johnstown at Section II Championships (Lapland Lake), 2 p.m.
Monday, February 25
State Championships (Bristol Mountain), 10 a.m.
State Championships (Harriet Hollister State Park), 10 a.m.
Tuesday, February 26
State Championships (Bristol Mountain), 9:30 a.m.
State Championships (Bristol Mountain), 10 a.m.
The Johnstown nordic skiers enter this season with a much smaller group than they have had in previous years, but second-year coach Matt Torniainen said his skiers are "enthusiastic and hard-working." Last year, the girls team finished seventh at the sectional meet, while the boys took ninth place.
Both teams also have lost their top finishers from last season.
However, returning are Quincey Brabant, who finished 36th at sectionals, Morgan Swedick (37th), Madison Smrtic (53rd) and Hannah Chamberlain (55th). For the boys, Cameron Roten (36th) and Eric Brower (39th) are both returning.
They will mix with newcomers Kayla DeLorenzo, Marrina White, Seth Clark, Bryce Kretser and Josh Menconi.
"I am excited for what the season holds and look forward to getting on some actual snow this year," Torniainen said.
For the second straight season, Canajoharie will not field a boys' nordic skiing team, but there is a small group of girls competing for sixth-year coach Brent Watterson.
Most of the team is returning as Catie Corrigan, who led the Lady Cougars by placing 41st at sectionals, is back for her senior season, along with fellow seniors Quinn Li O'Shea (52nd) and Rosemary Trahan. Also back is sophomore Paige Shovelton, who finished 50th at the Section II meet. They will mix with two incoming freshmen, Lauren Mayer and Ashley Darling.
The Lady Cougars are looking to improve on their last-place finish at sectionals.
"We have a lot of new faces," Watterson said. "If we get some snow, we should be able to compete."
The Johnstown boys and girls alpine ski teams finished seventh and 10th respectively at last year's Section II championship meet. Between the two teams, only Tyler Dick, who finished 30th in giant slalom and 33rd in slalom, is the only skier lost to graduation.
"This year looks to be very promising," fourth-year coach Jeff Krempa said. "With only losing one senior last year, we have a lot to look forward to."
Returning are Colin Dalmata, who was the Sir Bills' top competitor in the slalom event with a 17th-place finish and a 32nd-place finish in the giant slalom, and Joel Levin, who was 30th in the giant slalom at last year's sectional meet and 30th in the slalom. Austin Stergas, Noah Western, Lukas Levin, Nick Salatal, Dan Page, John Beardon and Zack Simone will round out the boys team.
Sara Kosowicz was the girls' team's top finisher at last year's sectional meet with a 25th-place finish in slalom and a 28th-place mark in giant slalom. Also returning for the girls' team is Helaina Stergas, Serena Smith, Hannah Keener, Emily Havlicek and Whitney Western.
The large number of returnees on the ski slopes for Johnstown has Krempa anxious to get the season started.
"They are a great group of kids and I am excited to be able to coach them," he said.