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Wednesday, March 21 High School Sports

Fairfield co-op, Prep ski teams champions once again

The Fairfield co-op girls’ ski team won the Connecticut Interscholastic Ski League (CISL) state championship for the sixth straight year, while the Fairfield Prep boys’ team won the CISL title for the third consecutive season on February 28 at Mount Southington.

The Fairfield girls finished with a team time score of 276.60 seconds, beating runner-up Staples (279.02) by just under three seconds. The Jesuits finished with a score of 259.12 seconds, edging past the Fairfield co-op boys’ team (263.53) by a little under four seconds.

The Fairfield girls finished the 2017-18 season undefeated with a 23-0 record while the Prep boys were 25-0. The Fairfield boys ended 21-4.

“This is my seventh year at Prep and in those seven years our overall record 167-8,” head coach Cary Nadel said. “We’ve had four undefeated seasons (2012, 2016, 2017, 2018), three straight state titles and five league titles.”

For the Fairfield Prep boys, George Visnic had a combined time of 41:98 seconds, placing him first overall out of 127 skiers. Kyle Vaccarella (42.38) was fifth, Jack Gurnham (42.89) was 11th, Conner Gurnham (43.29) was 17th, Aidan Feliciano (43.76) was 24th, Jack Kechan (44.82) was 44th, Pierce Barry (45.05) tied for 52nd, Evan Small (45.92) was 66th, Patrick Kelly (45.94) was 67th. Chase Reynolds did not complete both runs.

“George, in two or three other races this season finished first (overall) as well,” Nadel said. “He’s a junior, a big, tall guy. Great, experienced racer. He trains on the weekends with the Stratton Mountain Ski Club school (in Vermont).”

That, according to Nadel is a key factor in the team’s success. The fact that many skiers will travel to places like Stratton or Pico or Sugarbush to train.

“You’ll find that the better racers train at a mountain area someplace,” Nadel said. “There’s also a lot of kids that train in local areas, like Thunder Ridge, Mount Southington, as well. For example, Kyle Vaccarella, a freshman, trains at Pico and the other top three (Jack and Conner Gurnham and Aidan Feliciano) used to train out of Mount Snow.”

With 14 years of experience as a coach and ski instructor, Nadel puts together a training weekend where they video the team and look to correct mistakes.

“I can watch someone ski half a run and I can tell you what they need to work on,” Nadel said. “We, as coaches, do our best to tweak them, make our stronger skiers better by noticing things. One of our guys was skiing with his skis a little too close together so he was having balance problems. So, he worked very hard to widen his skis and give him a better platform and his times greatly decreased.”

How does a coach like Nadel create such a successful squad? Don’t ask.

“A lot of it is just dumb luck,” Nadel said. “I have a meeting in October and I look around and see some faces that I don’t know and I ask if anyone has race experience and one or two may raise their hands, and then I look to the sky and say thanks.”

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For the CISL championship, each competing team is composed of ten skiers. Six skiers must finish both runs - it’s a giant slalom course in Connecticut, usually 14 to 15 gates, average 20 to 25 seconds -- to qualify for any given race. Each skier takes two timed runs on designated courses and those times are added together for a total time.

For the Fairfield girls, Lizzie Vatis (45.50) finished 13th, Mikaela Fleming (45.81) was 18th, Ava Amuso (45.94) was 20th, Michaela King (46.21) was 22nd, Samantha Galluzzo (46.39) was 23rd, Sierra Salts (46.75) was 26th, Kelsey Brown (46.95) tied for 29th, Heather Clarke (47.43) was 34 th, Lean Farrington (47.50) was 35th and Emily Sferza (48.77) was 53rd.

“It was truly a banner year for us,” Fairfield coach Gary Quiricone said. “Both teams worked extremely hard to accomplish our goals this season. This was an amazing finale with the girls capturing their sixth consecutive state title and the boys securing a top spot with a second-place finish. I am very proud of both teams and these fantastic finishes.”

For the Fairfield boys, George Vatis (43.52) was 19th, Thomas Gladstone (43.53) was 20th, Michael Murphy (43.61) was 21st, Colin O’Hare (43.97) tied for 27th, Jack Murphy (44.09) was 30th, Ted orben (44.81) was 43rd, Everett Metchick (44.92) was 47th, Elliot Dolzani (45.04) was 50th, Sean Sigmund (45.05) tied for 52nd. Chase Miller did not complete both runs.