The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc for high school sports teams, but due to the nature of the sport, the Sisters High School alpine ski team has developed a plan with other schools to begin competitions this week with a meet at Hoodoo scheduled for Wednesday, January 27.

Coach Gabe Chladek reported that the boys and girls comprising the team have been doing dryland training since November and have been up “on the hill” once or twice a week since mid-December.

“All of the team activities are 100 percent outdoors and we’ve been able to maintain social distancing and wear face coverings while training,” said Chladek.

The Oregon School Ski Association (OSSA), which normally governs the high school ski racing in the state has taken “a hands-off” approach this season, leaving schools and coaches, along with volunteers, to organize some non-sanctioned “friendly” meets, according to Chladek.

“We will be racing informally with the Mid-Oregon and Southern Willamette Valley teams, along with the Redmond schools this season,” said Chladek. “Races will be conducted entirely with parent volunteers and coaches without assistance from the formal league.”

With 12 boys and nine girls on the squad and all the extra planning required to create a race schedule, Chladek has relied heavily on his assistant coaches, which include his wife, Rima Givot, and Grant McDonald.

“Those two have really helped carry out the bulk of the training,” he said.

Chladek is excited about the team’s turnout and potential.

“We have a lot of new racers. Some with previous club racing experience, as well as a batch of returning racers from previous seasons,” he said. “Everyone involved seems to have a pretty strong skiing background and both boys and girls teams should be very competitive this year despite being an overall younger group.”