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ALPINE SKI BUZZ

SEARCHMONT -- Another season of alpine skiing excitement is just around the corner. Thanks to new ownership at Searchmont Resort there's a new buzz in the race club.
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SEARCHMONT -- Another season of alpine skiing excitement is just around the corner. Thanks to new ownership at Searchmont Resort there's a new buzz in the race club. There's a big challenge ahead for the Searchmont Ski Runners' team as a large graduating class has resulted in a very young team for the upcoming competitive season.

The Northern Ontario Division (NOD) racing season opens January 24th at Searchmont Resort. The Wolfman Classic features Super G races on the 24th and Giant Slaloms on the 25th and 26th. Other NOD races are to be held in Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins.

The Ontario K2 Juvenile Championships take place at the end of February in Thunder Bay while the K1 Championships are scheduled for mid March in Collingwood that will also host the Canadian Juvenile Championships.

The Kinder Division consists of K1 competitors aged 11 and 12 years and K2 competitors aged 13 and 14.

The Juvenile Race Team was hit hard by the graduation of Amy Lattimer (4th at 2002 Canadians and now skiing at the National Ski Academy), Kristen Timusk (top 15 at Canadians), Kara-Li Poldmaa (top 30 at Canadians) and Whitney Maier. The only returning members of last year's squad are K2 competitors Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick and David Dutkiewicz. Fitzpatrick (13 yrs.) is in her first year of K2 while Dutkiewicz (14 yrs.) is the veteran of the Kinder Race Team. They are joined this season by Juvenile team K2 rookies Jennifer Payne and Kylie Rains. Both were members of last year's Mackenzie Championship team.

The K1 division boasts a large group of up-and-comers who played a big part in the Ski Runners Mackenzie Championship. The girls side includes Nora Beth Saunders, Meghan DiAngelo, Heidi Poldmaa, Courtney Rains and Nicole Gignac. The boys group consists of Graeme Hutchison, George Payne, Josh Dugas and Matthew Horbatuk.

Head coach Brian Mealey says he is excited about the potential of his team, although he's well aware that the Juvenile program is in a rebuilding mode.

(SPORTS EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Fitzpatrick is communications manager for the Searchmont Ski Runners.)