Norway ski team misses state qualification

Norway Ski Team Photo FROM LEFT, NORWAY Ski team members Jake Munn, Brooke Bittinger, Maria Fornetti, Gabby Carey and Peyton Johnson competed at the MHSAA regional Tuesday afternoon.

BELLAIRE — The Norway ski team saw two skiers narrowly miss qualifying for the MHSAA state meet after competing in a regional Tuesday at Schuss Mountain.

Gabby Carey was 15th in the slalom, and Jake Munn placed 17th in giant slalom for the Knights. Both results placed the skiers as first alternates for state final competition.

“That was heartbreaking to have both of our racers one spot from making the state meet as individuals,” Norway coach John Bittinger said. “Jake was only 19 hundredths of a second from qualifying, and Gabby was not much further than that. Jake has been skiing well all year and he was in position to be in the top 15 after the first run in the giant slalom, but had a bit of a slip and fell a few spots after run two. Gabby’s slalom was an excellent result.”

Norway placed seventh out of 11 teams at the meet, which was originally scheduled for Marquette Mountain but moved to lower Michigan at the last minute by the MHSAA due to conflicts. Petoskey, Harbor Springs and Great North Alpine claimed the top three team spots.

Brooke Bittinger took a 25th in the slalom and 31st in the giant slalom out of the 64 racers in the boys group.

“It was great to see Brooke’s result as well,” noted Bittinger, adding that both girls on the team would have been top 10 or close to it if they would have competed in the girls division.

“We came into this event riding a wave of successful results, but that all came to an end in a hurry,” Bittinger said. “It was an unusual day for us. We had both Jake and Maria Fornetti lose their poles in the slalom, resulting in two poor runs, Peyton Johnson had her ski release during her run and Gabby caught an edge at the top of the giant slalom course and skied out. We only start with five racers and we need four solid finishers for a competitive team score, which we failed to do in both events. We still managed to hold on to seventh place, but we would have liked to been in the top five.

“The good news is we are a very young team, fielding a junior, two sophomores and two freshman. We also anticipate a group of incoming freshman next season that will allow us to enter both a boys and a girls team in the circuit. Although that is a year away and right now we are focused on U.P. Finals coming up next week in Ironwood which will be the final race of the season.”

RESULTS: 1. Petoskey – 67; 2. Harbor Springs – 82; 3. Great North Alpine – 86; 4. Gaylord – 173; 5. Charlevoix – 204; 6. Glen Lake – 232; 7. Norway – 252; 8. Ironwood – 252.5; 9. Benzie – 262.5; 10. Houghton – 319; 11. Grayling – 328.5.