Pancakes with pink sprinkles helped Andover‘s Courtney Schwartz excel in her fourth state meet appearance to earn all-state honors
Andover senior Courtney Schwartz had one goal going into her fourth, and final, state alpine state meet – a top-20 finish and all-state distinction.
Schwartz and classmate Jake Majors each did exactly that with 18th place finishes in the Class AA state meet at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik Feb. 12.
After downing a stack of pancakes covered in pink sugar sprinkles for good luck, like she’s done before every race since eighth grade, Schwartz was ready to hear assistant coach Dike Holcomb yell behind her in the start house, “Go Crusher! Go kill it!” one more time.
Schwartz was 18th overall in a two-run time of one minute, 25.61 seconds or 6.33 seconds off Minnetonka’s Megan Greiner winning time. Skippers teammate Erin Olejnik was runner-up, 0.31 seconds back.
“She’s been a solid skier all season and that didn’t change at state,” Andover coach Kelsey Fautsch said. “She really knows how to work the flats and always has a good line.”
As a senior, Schwartz wanted to survive the first run on the steeper Helsinki course and as a result skied a little more in control before opening it up for her final run in Andover colors.
Schwartz fell at state as a freshman and junior but finished both runs as a sophomore.
“It was a bittersweet moment,” she said about waiting in the start house for her final run. “But it was really cool to be able to put on the Andover bib one more time and race for my school.”
Schwartz, who also skis for the Buck Hill junior ski team in Burnsville, won the season-long Northwest Suburban Conference overall title with two wins, a runner-up and a third-place finish.
Part of her United States Ski Association training included week-long training trips to Colorado in November and December to hone her racing even more. At the club-racing level, skiers compete in both slalom and giant slalom events. Slalom is the only discipline skied in high school and Schwartz has grown to love the tight turns and precision needed in the event.
“It’s where my heart is,” Schwartz said. “Years back I struggled a lot with slalom and my eighth grade year I skied for Coon Rapids because I went to Epiphany [Catholic School, Coon Rapids] but once I moved to Andover that’s when my slalom really excelled.”
Schwartz plans to ski in college, a dream of hers, at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. The program is one of only 13 NCAA division I programs in the country but competes in other athletics at the division III level.
Schwartz and Majors said they were familiar with the run at Giant’s Ridge with previous meets during the season, including the all important section meet.
“They did a really good job laying out the course and letting [skiers] skills play out,” Schwartz said. “It was a challenging course you had to think about but was it really fun.”
Majors improved his position from 35th place in the morning run by 24 spots to earn all-state honors in his only state meet appearance in a two-run time of 1:14.04.
Chanhassen’s Louis Nguyen became a two-time state champion in a winning time of 1:06.97. Centennial’s Taylor Lindy was third in 1:07.87.
Majors was one spot, or 0.03 seconds, from making state as a sophomore.
“So I was pretty excited to be up there in the starting gate but once you get through sections you can let your skies run,” he said about focusing on going fast instead of staying up to qualify for another race.
Majors started midway through the 90-skier race which meant a few ruts to deal with, but nothing he hasn’t seen before.
“It was a very technical course with a lot more to it than what we saw at sections,” he said.
Majors placed sixth, seventh and eighth at conference races this season at Wild Mountain. He was eighth at the Wild Mountain invite and third and fifth place finishes at the Martin Luther King Day invite at Giant’s Ridge.
After state, Majors celebrated by joining classmates on an annual winter camping trip to the Boundary Waters.
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