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CCHS to field cross country ski team - Central Oregonian

December 16, 2012
Crook County High School

Crook County High School has a long history with cross country skiing.

However, for the past two seasons, the school has not fielded a team.

Now, under the tutelage of new head coach Russ Johnson, the school is working to build a new program.

Johnson, who graduated from Crook County in the 1970s, took up cross country skiing in college.

“It started with Ann Austin when they had a team way back,” he said.

Austin, who ran cross country at Crook County, later went on to compete on a national championship Cross Country Ski team at Central Oregon Community College.

Johnson’s daughter likes to ski, and that was the motivation for him to approach athletic director Scott Polen about restarting the program.

Although the team has just six athletes, Johnson is pleased with the progress that he is seeing.

“They are working hard,” he said. “It’s going to be fun. I’m excited to be working with the kids and they are a good group of kids.”

Crook County will be competing in the 11-team Southern Division of the Oregon Interscholastic Ski Racing Association (OISRA).

However, there are currently two high school skiing leagues in Oregon, and according to Johnson, both have been helpful in getting a team started.

“My hat goes off to both leagues,” he said. “They have been very helpful in getting equipment and in learning how the leagues run.”

Training without snow has been a challenge for the team. Consequently, Johnson says that they have to be creative to learn good technique.

The team has been sliding in their socks in the high school halls, as well as working with their poles outside. They have also been running to get in shape.

A lot of teams have a big advantage,” he said, “but it’s for fun and learning how to do it,” he said.

The team practices Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at the high school, then spends Saturdays in the mountains to get a chance to work on skis.

Prior to competition they will also have one two-day ski clinic, and a two-day ski camp.

Johnson is hoping that the crash course in ski technique will pay dividends down the road.

“That will be four days of intense training,” he said. “Right now we are working primarily on core strength and conditioning and some skills that will carry over.”

Teams in the league include Bend, Mountain View, and Summit, who all have competitive ski teams.

The competition on Jan. 5 will be held at Diamond Lake. The season continues through Feb. 9 with meets at Hoodoo, Willamette Pass, Mt. Bachelor, and Walt Haring Sno Park. In addition, the team will also have the opportunity to compete in a demonstration paint ball biathlon event at the end of the season.

Regardless of how the season goes, Johnson is enjoying the opportunity.

“It’s exciting, and they are a great group of kids,” he said.

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