Sunlight Ski Teamers set to hit the slopes |

Sunlight Ski Teamers set to hit the slopes

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

SUNLIGHT MOUNTAIN RESORT, Colorado ” A summer slalom camp at Mount Hood, Ore., rigorous dryland training in the summer and a resolve-testing Mount Sopris hike. All went into a busy offseason for the Sunlight Ski Team, one that coach John Bresnitz and his young racers hope pays dividends as the competitive season gets underway.

“The work these kids have done over the past summer and fall has already had a tremendous payoff,” said Bresnitz. “We began dryland in July before our Mount Hood slalom camp. … My goal, as a coach, is to have the athletes in better physical condition than anyone they compete against. There is no doubt we are accomplishing that.”

Bresnitz has plenty of talent to work with in the form of his 10-racer Sunlight Ski Team.

Back is 9-year-old dynamo Cooper Cornelius, who Bresnitz dubs one of the fastest young skiers around. Also back is 11-year-old Luke Prosence, who won the J5 giant slalom finale last season and made the Rocky Mountain Regional Team.

“These two, Luke and Cooper, are self-driven and dedicated athletes,” Bresnitz lauded. “They both played football last fall as well as doing ski team dryland.”

And the team, comprised of youngsters 8 to 13 years old, runs much deeper than those two as far as talent is concerned.

“Across the board, all 10 Sunlight Ski Team racers have improved at such a rate that I am constantly awed by them,” Bresnitz said. “When Quinn Kimminau goes down a slalom course, I am wide-eyed and can barely recognize him.”

That’s lofty praise considering the source. Bresnitz is an ex-Burke Mountain Ski Academy (Vt.) student who put together a solid FIS and pro tour racing career before entering the coaching ranks.

Bresnitz is beginning his second season in charge of the Sunlight team, which begins its competitive season this weekend with a race at Loveland Saturday and Sunday.

It’ll be the young racers’ first chance to see how the summer training translates into course success. Most feel they’re well ahead of the curve.

“It’s helped me a lot,” 13-year-old Lindsay Hoffmann, one of four girls on the team, said of the offseason regimen. “I feel a lot stronger. That’s for sure.”

Alex Stepniewski, 13, was one of the racers to make an mid-fall trip up Mount Sopris, a trek that not only bonded team members but pushed them to their limits.

“We stared at like 6 in the morning and got down at like 5,” he recalled. “What took so long was that there was a huge storm. You couldn’t see Sopris at all. We were at the lower peak, looking around, and said, ‘How the heck are we going to get over there?’ … We got to Falls Peak, because it was just brutal.”

Stepniewski said the wind and snow tested team members, who kept trudging along with encouragement from their coaches.

“We just saw how hard we could be pushed, and actually kept going,” the 13-year-old said.

The experience should come in handy as the season progresses. This week, Sunlight skiers have been hitting Sunlight Mountain Resort for full days of training in preparation for competition.

Prosence, for one, has liked what he’s seen from his teammates thus far.

“It’s been a blast, definitely,” Prosence said. “We have good newcomers and everybody’s been doing well.”

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