Sunlight Team’s ready to race

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

SUNLIGHT MOUNTAIN – After their coach, David Fautsko, died in a Dec. 4 car accident, members of the Sunlight Ski Team felt compelled to pay tribute to their fallen leader in some way. So, the group of 8- to 12-year-olds decided to have his initials, D.F.F., embroidered on their red, black and white official team jackets.

“It was an emotional time for them,” said Colt Cornelius, a team dad. “It’s pretty neat what they did.”That’s quite a gesture, especially considering the ages of the source, and it seems the Sunlight Ski Team’s collective thoughtfulness is right on par with its talent.”Half of these guys can be world-class racers. You’re going to see these guys beating a lot of bigger teams,” said John Bresnitz, who’ll be filling in for head coach Becky Brandes on the slopes this season.Bresnitz is inheriting a six-skier team from the pregnant Brandes, who’s still running the show on an administrative basis. So far, that’s mostly entailed late afternoon practices that stretch until sundown. The Sunlight skiers got in five days of 9 a.m.-to-3 p.m. practice during their holiday break from school, which served as a good chance to prepare for a season-opening competition in Aspen today. Then it’s off to Crested Butte for a Saturday event. They’ll compete in all four alpine skiing disciplines – slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill – as they circle the state during the competitive season.

Lilly McSwain, 12, is the team’s eldest skier and can’t wait to get the ball rolling after more than a month of practice and plenty of indoor conditioning in the off season. She has aspirations of again making Junior Olympics, a feat she accomplished last year.Her 10-year-old sister, Grace, has a much simpler goal.”I just want to beat her,” she said, grinning and pointing at her older sister.Joining the McSwains on the Sunlight Ski Team are 11-year-olds Quinn Kimminau and Alphonse Fischer, 10-year-old Luke Prosence and talented youngster Cooper Cornelius, who’s just 8 years old.

Bresnitz, who most recently worked out of Aspen Ski Club, is eager to work with younger skiers after making a career out of working with high school and college-aged pupils.”It’s cool,” he said with his daughters, 10-year-old Rhiannon and Wyanet, 8, by his side. “It’s family-oriented and you get a lot of help from the parents.”He’s considering signing his kids up for the team in the near future. Bresnitz no doubt passed on skiing genes to his daughters, considering he 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.And coaching is something he loves to do.”When racing, it’s all about you. It’s very individual,” said Bresnitz, who’s coached, among plenty of other gigs, for the Slovak National Team. “It’s nice to be able to get outside yourself and give back.”

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