Future looks bright for Sunlight skiers
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – With every directive John Bresnitz speaks, the Sunlight Ski Team athletes spring into action.
First, the team’s head coach commands the youngsters, most between 8 and 12 years old, to do a set of high-bouncing tucks. Then it’s clapping push-ups, followed by a series of other warm-up activities before moving on to plyometric exercises designed to strengthen the racers’ young bodies.
It’s a typical Wednesday afternoon for the tiny ski team, which is preparing feverishly for another season.
And, after one of the most successful seasons in team history in 2011, the Sunlight crew has cemented quite the foundation on which to build.
“It was just a great year,” Bresnitz said.
By consistently posting solid results, half of the team’s racers eligible to qualify for the Rocky Mountain Division Team did so.
Three young racers – Cooper Cornelius, Alexis Naylor and Devan McSwain – made the Podium Project Team, another honor earned by racing at a high level. Tyler Dollahan missed making the team by the narrowest of margins.
Bresnitz and his young racers have already been at work for some time in hopes of repeating last season’s results. The coach took Cornelius, Naylor and a few Vail skiers to Mount Hood, Ore., for a summer camp a few months back.
Some of the team’s most serious racers have been doing dryland training all summer long. The full team began meeting regularly for training sessions right around the beginning of the school year.
With the racing season just a few weeks from starting, Bresnitz directs three dryland training sessions a week, with Accelerate Human Performance in Glenwood and a local park serving as the venues.
On Thursdays, he takes the young racers out skiing. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland, with early opening dates, are popular destinations.
The Sunlight racers have certainly put in their time, and they hope it translates into another successful campaign.
Cornelius, 12, certainly has some lofty goals.
“I want to try to win the Junior Olympics,” he said. “I don’t know. I want to win a lot and make the Rocky Mountain team again.”
Naylor’s focus is on polishing event-specific skills.
“I need to work on [giant slalom] and super-G, since that’s my new thing I’m doing this year,” the 11-year-old said.
Team-wide, Bresnitz anticipates another big season.
“Last year was really good,” he said. “We now have a really strong J4 crew, and a good group of new kids.”
Leigh Sheldrake is joining the Sunlight Ski Team coaching staff this season.
Sheldrake was an accomplished racer in his own right.
“I’ve known him forever,” Bresnitz said. “He’s a younger guy. He’s been through a lot of programs.”
Sheldrake has worked with all levels of athletes at Team Breckenridge and has worked as head coach at Eldora Mountain.
“He has an excellent background,” Bresnitz said.
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