Ashley George will get one more shot at a state title on the slopes.
The Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors voted Feb. 4 to have state competitions for all sports winter and up first will be Alpine skiing March 10 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
George, a senior on the Prior Lake Alpine team, will be seeking her sixth straight trip to state. The Section 6 competition is set for March 3-4 at Buck Hill in Burnsville.
“My ultimate goal is to win the whole thing,” said George, who finished fifth at state last year. “That would be a dream come true, but I need to ski faster and harder than I ever have before.”
“My top competitor, Peyton Servais of Lakeville North, is also my best friend, and I know she will do everything she can to win as well,” George added.
Servais was runner-up at state last year, behind ninth-grader Sophia Palmquist of Eagan.
George would love to get the Lakers’ team there as well. Prior Lake would need to finish first or second in the team standings at sections to do that.
“As great as it would be to win state, I think our girls’ team has a very strong chance of making it and, to me, going as a team would be an even bigger success,” George said. “My coaches, Dave (Everson) and Anea (Hedin) have worked so hard to get our team where we are now. Making it to state as a team would only reflect that.”
George has been the Lakers’ top skier since her first varsity season as a seventh-grader. She was 39th that year at state and finished 80th as an eighth-grader.
George nearly cracked the top 10 as a ninth-grader taking 11th, before dropping to 18th the next year.
“As a seventh grader, I was one of the youngest on the team,” George said. “I had a few friends, but they were all significantly older than me. The person who made me feel most welcome to the team was Alex Schult. She was a senior when I joined the team and she acted as kind of a big sister.
“I looked up to her a lot,” George added. “I think my skiing really improved when I grew closer to the team. Having Alex helped a lot my first year, but I made more and more friends each year, which made skiing a lot more fun. Some of my best memories come from this team.”
Competing on the Buck Hill Ski Racing Team has also enhanced George’s talents. She’s competed on Team Central, which is a group of roughly 15 from the Midwest Central Region that train together in the fall.
“I train and compete nationally a lot for Buck Hill, which is the main difference between that and the Prior Lake team,” George said. “Buck Hill has shown me other parts of the world I wouldn’t have otherwise seen.”
George will get to know the city of Bozeman more following high school. She hopes to ski for Montana State University next winter, while also studying nursing.
“It’s very hard to make a Division I ski team if you are from the Midwest, so I might join the club team,” she said. “I’m going to keep skiing regardless, whether that be racing or just going out to Bridger Bowl (a top ski hill in Bozeman) with my friends.
“I’ve been racing since I was seven,” George added. “It confines you to the training venue on just one part of the mountain. I really want to go out and explore the rest of the mountain and try new things.”
George’s team had its third competition of the season Feb. 4 at Buck Hill and finished second in the team standings out of eight schools behind Lakeville South.
But George beat her friend Servais by .06 in the individual results, taking first overall with a combined time of 43.37 on her two runs.
The Laker girls had three skiers in the top 16. Eighth-grader Anastasia Zadvornykh was sixth (47.65), followed by junior Emma Gannon in 11th (49.76) and seventh-grader Emily Reid in 16th (49.76).
Junior Meg May was 20th (52.39) for Prior Lake, followed by junior Abby Warmhoff in 23rd (53.48), eighth-grader Annabel McCann in 24th (53.62) and eighth-grader Morgan Daugaard in 25th (53.98).
On the boys side, Prior Lake was fourth in the team standings Feb. 4. Lakeville South took top spot.
Ninth-grader Blake Stout led the Lakers taking ninth with a combined time of 48.89 on his two runs.
Junior Zander Leining was 12th (50.28) for Prior Lake, followed by sophomore Soren Featherstone in 15th (51.46), sophomore Luke Bloomer in 20th (52.87), ninth-grader Braden Deboer in 28th (54.51), ninth-grader Riley Spieler in 36th (57.88) and senior Rafe Walter in 38th (58.45).