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Norway girls ski team qualifies for State Finals



Members of the Norway girls ski team, from left, Ingrid Holt, Linnea Boehmfeldt, Grace Schiltz, Ella Rizzo, Sofia Ruesch, Megan Bittinger and Sophia Fornetti gather at Crystal Mountain on Monday. (Courtesy photo)

Thompsonville, Mich. — The Norway High School girls ski team is going to the MHSAA State skiing finals on Feb. 26 after placing second at Regionals on Monday at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville.

This is only the second time in the last 13 years a ski team in this area has qualified to advance to the finals. Regionals consisted of two individual events, a slalom and a giant slalom race.

The results of each race are combined using the finish result of the best four finishers on each team.

The top three teams from their region advance to the finals. A total of 13 schools with 72 girls and 69 boys participated.

Norway won the slalom race with a total of 59 points.

Great Northern Alpine was second with 64 followed closely by Harbor Springs in third with 65 points.

The Knights were led by Ella Rizzo in 4th place Sofia Ruesch came through the finish in 12th with Megan Bittinger in 17th and Sophia Fornetti rounded out the scoring in 26th place.

“We had a great slalom,” Norway head coach John Bittinger said. “The best we have done as a team since Ted Fornetti and myself have been coaching. We placed five racers in the top 30. Even though you only count the four best, having a fifth solid racer bumps the other team down the list. Ingrid Holt finished in 29th.”

Norway placed all six racers in the top 30 in the giant slalom. Harbor Spring won the event with 47 points with Norway grabbing 69 and Great North Alpine in third with 74 points.

Rizzo led the way again with an 11th followed by Bittinger and Ruesch in 16th and 17th respectively. Fornetti rounded out the scoring again with a 25th. Grace Schiltz and Holt came through with a 27th and 28th.

“We were a bit on edge in the GS today,” Bittinger added. “The soft conditions were hard on our top three racers and none ended in the top ten. This was a shock to us because they have really been skiing fast in GS. The great news was our next three pulled together and all skied the best they have skied all year. The six in the top 30 gave us quite an advantage in points over all the teams except Harbor Springs securing our second place overall.”

Norway also entered its first boys team in four years at regionals. With only four boys on the roster, the Knights managed to take 10th overall. Ben Fornetti led the way in both events with a 17th in the slalom and 28th in the GS. Skyler St John ended with a 41st in slalom and a 52nd in GS.

“We were proud of the boys team,” Bittinger said. “Fielding only four racers and bumping three other teams to take 10th was great for them. They have something to shoot for next year.”

The Norway girls team will head to the state finals on Feb. 26 at Nubs Nob in Harbor Springs.

“Winning state will be a bit of a reach for us, but in ski racing anything can happen,” Bittinger said. “We participated in what is considered the toughest region for ski racing and we won the slalom, so if we hit with everyone at states like we did at regionals, who knows,” Bittinger added.

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