Going solo

Mustangs’ Williams  must co-op to ski the slopes

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Some refer to it as the darnedest thing – this is Colorado, where a glorious, inviting portion of the Rocky Mountains attracts skiers not only locally and nationally, but from around the globe.

And yet the participation numbers for instate scholastic skiing remain low. Less than 700 combined boys and girls competitors were on the snow in the past school year and only field hockey, still one of the newer sanctioned sports, and girls gymnastics had fewer.

As a result, it makes for some predictable and interesting prep teams. Indeed, mountain towns and areas such as Aspen, Frisco and Vail have done well over the years, although those in the Denver-metropolitan area have had to be open-minded in terms of a co-op.

Emma Williams knows all about it. Now a Mullen senior, she’s in her fourth year of competing under the metro-wide umbrella of Evergreen’s ski team.

It’s almost as if a city high-schooler couldn’t be a ski bum because there’s nowhere to go.

“Any one of the Denver-area kids who ski are on this team unless you live in Boulder,” Williams said.

And why does she go through all of the hassle, expense and inconvenience, and deal with competing in a high-school sport in which she doesn’t compete for her school?

“It’s my favorite sport,“ she said.

Williams first was introduced to skiing at age 3, joining a program offered on Saturdays. But when she learned of kids competing in ski races on Sundays, she quickly approached her mother, Kate Williams.

“I asked her, ‘Mom, can I do that?’ And she agreed to let me do it,” Emma Williams said.

Later envisioning it to be cool on the snow as a high-schooler, she joined the Evergreen team as a freshman and never blinked.

“When I was a freshman, there were three of us (from Mullen) on the team,” Williams said. “But the other two graduated and I’m the only one left.”

As for allegiance, Williams is hardly confused and doesn’t feel torn.

“Not really,” she said. “It’s a pretty individual sport even within the (Jefferson County) ski team. I get points for the team, but most of us are on some clubs and we have jackets. (For Evergreen) we don’t even look like a team.”

But they do act like it in terms of performance, at least to a degree. The season generally involves training in December – Evergreen members practice at Loveland – they are at the halfway point of the six-race schedule. Williams has qualified for the state meet, to be held Feb. 21-22 at Purgatory in Durango, in all four seasons. She has made it in Slalom and Giant Slalom. It’s the Alpine portion. As for the Nordic, which involves cross-country skiing, the metro-area team struggles, and for obvious reasons. Opportunities for training are limited.

“Essentially, it’s running on skis,” Williams said. “It’s just way too hard.”

Williams has placed as high as sixth in an Alpine event this season. In the past, she has finished “in the 30s” at state, but has a goal this year of cracking the top 20, perhaps even the top 10 that would make her all-state.

She previously swam for the Mustangs and will continue to compete in tennis in the spring – she was a doubles player the past season on the Varsity II team – but also doesn’t under-estimate her experience in skiing for the Jeffco team.

“Of course, I’ve met my best friends through the Jeffco ski team and they’re almost all of my best friends to this day,” she said.

As for competing in college, Williams is considering Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana, two of which have club-level teams. She has a 4.12 grade-point average and will major in accounting.

Not bad for a student-athlete and ski racer without a home.

I just love the sport,” she said.

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