The Hopkinton High School boys ski team may not have the roster size enjoyed by some of its opponents, but the Hillers are as talented as many of the larger teams they find themselves competing against, according to coach Shawn Mato.
“There is not a lot of depth on this team and we have several new members, but there are some really strong athletes,” Mato said.
Senior Jake Lacoche is one of the most experienced skiers on the roster, and Mato said he has done well so far this winter in both the slalom and giant slalom events.
“He has been around for a while and he is a strong skier,” the coach said. “The men’s division in our league is fairly competitive, but he probably had one of his best races recently, so he is looking to finish strong and we’ll see if we can get him to states. He is probably in, but he is close, on the bubble. Either way, he has done a good job.”
Mathias Niss is another skier who Mato praised for being strong throughout the winter.
“He has done a really good job improving week to week,” Mato said.
Senior Sam LaGoy is another experienced skier, and Mato said he is enjoying a strong season among the talent-rich league that competes at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury.
Hopkinton’s roster this winter includes some exchange students and new skiers, along with some who have never raced before.
“All you want to see as a coach is that they are trying,” Mato said. “If they are willing to come out and try and work hard, then they are doing what we want them to do.”
There is a difference between recreational skiing and ski racing. Mato said the giant slalom, with its wider turns, can be a little bit easier to navigate for those who are less experienced compared to the tighter turns in the slalom.
“Even with skiing experience, you still have to go out there and basically throw yourself down the mountain as fast as you can while still going through those gates,” he said. “It’s not the easiest thing, and then you add in the competition and it becomes even more challenging.”
The Hillers, he added, have done well.
“They’ve been open to feedback and they are getting better as skiers and being aggressive and attacking the course,” Mato said.
Mato is hopeful that the experience will encourage others to try the sport in the coming seasons.
“They have a lot of fun,” he said. “Our kids are going for that last lift at 9 o’clock to get in a little more skiing at the end of the night. Hopefully other kids hear about this and they want to be a part of it.”