BOYNE FALLS — If Rochester Adams sophomore Katie Fodale was going to win a Division 1 Finals title this year, she didn’t think it would be in slalom.
Last year’s giant slalom runner-up showed off on the other side of the mountain Monday. Fodale won slalom with the only sub 31-second run of the day at Boyne Mountain for her first Finals championship of her early ski career.
“I probably skied like the best slalom of my life today,” Fodale said. “I think I was super aggressive. I was trying to go as fast as I could. I wasn’t worried about falling. I think that’s like a big thing because if you’re going to ski cautiously then it’s just not going to be your fastest. I didn't; I just went as fast as I could.”
Fodale managed to top last year’s slalom runner-up, Traverse City Central senior Elle Craven, after Craven hiked on her first run, but the one damper on the day didn’t seem to hurt the perennial state-contending Trojans much.
Craven medaled in GS with a team-leading fourth-place run, and Central clinched back-to-back team titles after last year’s group won its first since 2013. It was the Trojans’ 13th Finals championship in girls skiing.
“Each one is just as special as the other, for sure,” Central coach Amy Kudary said. “This one is so special to me because we both came into the program at the same time. I started four years ago when this group was freshmen. We’ve all grown together over the last four years. We’ve all changed, grown and gotten better at everything we do.”
Kudary took over for longtime — and successful — Central ski coach Jerry Stanek in 2018-19, and he’s been an assistant with the program since. She also skied for him when the Trojans won the Open Class Finals championship in 1989.
“For him to be back coaching with me now and winning with him is one of the most special things in my mind,” she said.
For the Trojans, senior Maddy Cox went home with twin all-state honors, finishing fifth in GS and sixth in slalom. Avery Sill finished eighth in GS, and Pearl Hale, Sill and Lilly Kuberski all took top-15 spots in slalom.
“It’s bittersweet because it’s coming to an end, but I’m so happy with how I was able to race today and how I was able to help the team,” said Cox, who was all-state in GS as a junior.
Cox joined Charlie Schulz from Traverse City West (10th in slalom, sixth in GS) with two medals. Lila Warren (10th in GS) and Olivia Bageris (seventh in slalom) had all-state finishes for the Titans. Dillyn Mohr and Ellie Gruber were top-15 in slalom. Gruber was 18th in GS.
The Titans, who ended the day runners-up, went into the lunch break with a team lead and landed four in the top 15 for the girls slalom. West has won three Finals championships and now two runner-up trophies.
“For the girls, this is incredibly exciting because they weren't even at this meet last year,” West coach Ed Johnson said. “We just saw at the beginning of the year that there was that much potential with the girls and how they were skiing together and their consistency. We just knew if we could keep building on that throughout the season they could probably get to this point.”
Marquette didn’t make an appearance as a team, but that didn’t stop the lone Upper Peninsula school in Division 1 from bringing a championship back over the Mackinac Bridge.
Senior Maddy Stern landed on the podium twice, winning the GS title and earning all-state in slalom finishing eighth.
“I just was able to stick to it and carve all my turns well,” Stern said. “I could just carry my speed from the steeps to the flats pretty good.”
She and Anna Grezlak represented Marquette at the Girls Finals. Like the two Traverse City schools, Marquette is a rightful ski dynasty of its own, having won five of the last seven Division 1 championships.
“I really wish my team was here to support and so I can support them, but I really am having a great time just showing what Marquette can do,” Stern said. “We did have a tough season this year, but it was a great way to go out.”
She’s off to represent the U.P. some more. In four days, Stern travels to Attitash, New Hampshire to race with USSA Team Michigan.
“I did a lot of training this year just preparing for this day,” Stern said.
PHOTOS (Top) Rochester Adams’ Katie Fodale cuts past a gate during a slalom run Monday at Boyne Mountain. (Middle) Marquette’s Maddy Stern speeds toward the finish of the giant slalom. (Click for more from Sports in Motion.)
HARBOR SPRINGS — The Cadillac girls ski team knew it couldn’t sneak up on anyone at Monday’s Division 2 Final, and rose to the challenge.
Cadillac walked away from Nub's Nob Ski Area and Resort in Harbor Springs with its second championship in three years and fourth-straight top-three finish. The Vikings finished with a combined team score of 72. Harbor Springs finished runner-up with a combined team score of 91.
Mattawan and Paw Paw placed third (107), Bloomfield Hills Marian finished fourth (168) and Norway finished fifth (171).
"A couple of years ago, we snuck up and got a ski title, but this year, we had more of a target on our backs knowing we had a pretty good team to do something special," Cadillac head coach James Netzley said. "It was a little nervous feeling today because of the start."
Netzley said his skiers made it a goal to repeat what they did in 2022 after finishing third last year.
"We said last night that it was going to take a complete team effort if we wanted to do something special today," Netzley said. "That came true, and we relied on every kid on the team."
The Vikings started shaky at the slalom with a couple of falls, but in the end, several skiers pulled through. Senior Onalee Wallis led the Vikings with second-place finishes in the slalom and giant slalom. Wallis finished the slalom with a combined time of 1:12.63 and the giant slalom with a combined time of 51.67.
Wallis's teammate, senior Avery Meyer, finished third in the slalom with a combined time of 1:16.76. Great North Alpine's Grace Rowe finished fourth with a combined time of 1:17.46.
Rochester Adams' Katie Fodale finished third in the giant slalom (52.43), Meyer placed fourth (53.39), and Emma Borgula placed fifth in the giant slalom with a combined time of 53.97.
"They are pretty special kids," Netzley said about Meyer and Wallis. "Both have been first-team all-state for four years in a row, and gotten a top-10 finish since their freshmen year. Not many kids can do that by the time they come in as freshmen and cap off their senior year with outstanding performances."
Petoskey didn't have the outing it had hoped for, but senior Marley Spence stamped herself as one of the best high school athletes in the state after walking away with her fifth-straight D2 individual Finals medal after placing first in both the slalom and giant slalom. Spence finished the slalom with a combined time of 1:12.19 and giant slalom with a combined time of 51.17.
Northmen boys coach Ben Crockett, who leads the program alongside his sister and girls coach Jennifer Crockett, found no disagreement in naming Spence as one of the best individual athletes to come out of Petoskey, let alone the state.
"We've been trying to dig into the history books in Michigan, and she is definitely at the top of her group historically of anybody who has competed in a sport," Ben Crockett said. "She is the best in Michigan, and there is no question about it."
PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Marley Spence races past a gate during the Division 2 giant slalom Monday. (Middle) Cadillac celebrates its second Finals team championship over the last three seasons. (Photos by Sarah Shepherd. Click for all photos; more will be added throughout this week.)