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Meet 1: Centaurs prosper despite lack of snow

There is a holiday tune that Woodstock Academy ski team coach Kevin Brody has been continuing to hum to himself even though the holiday season has passed.

“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” has been the mantra for the Centaurs and the other teams participating in the Connecticut Interscholastic Ski League.

Unfortunately, their wishes have not been answered much this season.

But the home course for the state, Mount Southington, has been holding up.

“It’s thin, that’s for sure,” Brody said.

Fortunately, the Centaurs also have the ability to train at Wachusett Mountain in Westminster, MA.

“The conditions there are amazing because when we hit that cold spot in December, they had the snow guns running for a week and a few days straight. Their powder held up well so our training location is holding up nicely. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed for the weather for Southington,”Brody said.

The longer range forecast did not hold much hope for more natural snow any time soon, but even sub-freezing temperatures at night would be welcomed by skiers.

Despite the lack of snow and cold temperatures, the ski season has begun.

Woodstock Academy took part in the first CISL meet on Thursday with temperatures in the mid-40’s in Southington and the threat of rain.

“The rain held off enough so luckily we were only driving home in pouring rain. It was a little misty and the course conditions were a little soft, a little slushy, but the course held up quite well,” Brody said. “The mountain, for races, salt the course and by salting it, it actually freezes the surface to make it a bit more solid and, thankfully, they did that.”

The results were not bad for the Centaurs.

Senior Davis Simpson finished eighth among 144 boys competitors.

“That’s darn good,” Brody said. “There are a lot of racers there that come from winter or weekend academies up north with pretty intense training and come back to their high schools to race. For that reason, top-10 is incredible in my book.”

Fellow seniors Aidan Soderman (66th) and Nicholas Betschmann (81st) also finished in the top 100 while freshman Luke Thompson was 115th.

“Luke has pretty decent skills so that’s a good palate to work with,” Brody said.

The boys have only four skiers which means they can not score as a team this season. Teams need to have six skiers with two qualifying scores each to score as a team. The bigger concern is that with three of the Woodstock Academy boys being seniors, it means Brody will have to do some recruiting.

“It’s weird,” Brody said. “Ski racing has become a very female-dominated sport and that’s very cool but I wish we had two more boys so we could score some points for the league. But, they are solid individually which is all that matters.”

The Centaurs do have enough girls to score led by sophomore Emma Brody who finished ninth out of 150 girls competitors in the first meet.

“She actually hopped on some new equipment on Tuesday, a longer ski, and I guess she took to it pretty well,” said Kevin Brody who is both her coach and father. “Sometimes, people get used to equipment and when they change, it can do funky things to them.”

Junior Maeve Lusignan was 55th in that first meet and fellow junior Peyton Bentley finished 91st.

The Centaurs also have juniors Avery Kollbeck and Lilly Verraneault and sophomores Phoebe Griffin and Olivia Smith.

“Progress,” Kevin Brody said when asked what his goal for the season is. “Seeing kids having fun, improving throughout the season, jumping spots and climbing the ladder to get higher in their CISL placements.”

And a little more snow wouldn’t hurt.

“Definitely, some snow would help,” the Woodstock Academy coach said with a laugh.