The high school Nordic skiing season is upon us. Laramie makes its 2019-20 debut at the Casper Invite Friday and Saturday on Casper Mountain.

The two days of competition features a 5km skate or freestyle race on Friday and a 3x3km classic relay on Saturday.

Rebecca Watson enters her 18th season as head coach of Laramie High School Nordic Skiing. There are plenty of returning skiers on the LHS roster for this season and Watson is looking forward to seeing how they perform.

The Laramie boys’ were fourth at the state championships last February, while the girls’ team finished fifth. There are six returners on the girls’ roster, including defending state champion Abigail Whitman. A total of 11 skiers are back on the boys’ roster.

Early snow has benefitted the team before the start of this new season.

Watson said it’s been awesome to get on snow so far.

“The main thing we’ve been working on is getting some technique back and some reminders (about their form and technique). What I’m seeing is a lot of excitement. A lot of underclassmen are going to be coming in and just really pushing my upperclassmen, and some upperclassmen that are coming in really fit and ready to go.”

Whitman is the headliner for Laramie High School this season. She won the 10km skate or freestyle race at state last year and was runner-up in the 5km classic event.

Watson says she’s a key part of the team.

“I’m leaning on her for her leadership. She’s really excited to take on the role of being a leader. She’s my team captain and already planning a bunch of team-bonding activities.”

Whitman leads a Lady Plainsmen team that has 13 members, which includes four seniors.

The Plainsmen lost their two All-State skiers from last year but have a large 28-man roster for the new season. That features eight seniors, including Gus Kauffman and Connor Frick.

Those two visited with KOWB’s David Settle about the new season, the first weekend races on Casper Mountain, their expectations, and more.

Watson feels that if her squads want to move up, it’s about doing the work.

“It’s putting in a lot of time, especially a lot of time on skis, and also a lot of time outside of season. What I’m really excited about is how much time they did put in outside of the season, and they’re coming in really fit and ready.”

She just wants to get this first weekend of racing in and take this experience and build from there.

As for season goals, she has some benchmarks along the way.

“I’m going to reiterate just to get them functioning well as a team. The next piece is each one of them sits down at the beginning of the year and fills out a sheet with their team goals. Then, it’s looking at that goal and figuring out what it will take to get to that.”

The schedule takes them to Pinedale, Jackson, back to Casper, and Soldier Hollow, UT. The 2020 Wyoming High School Nordic Skiing State Championships will be outside of Cody on Feb. 28 and 29.

After taking next weekend off, Laramie will host the second round of Nordic competition at the Happy Jack Recreation Area on Dec. 20 and 21.

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