2022 CNISSF (State champs for CA and NV) Boys and Girls combined Alpine Champions
2022 CNISSF Ski and Snowboard, Boys and Girls 3rd Place in State
2022 CNISSF Snowboarders: Women’s 7th overall,
2022 CNISSF Snowboarder: Men’s 17th overall
Mammoth High School has just won the CIF State Championships once again! And what a ride it has been...literally. The journey to the podium has been full of so much more than athletic talent.
After a one on one with Head Coach, Connie Moyer, this is what we learned...from the inside track.
Program Overview from Head Coach, Connie Moyer:
The training season starts right at the end of November or early December depending on the snowfall for that particular year. The athletes get together as a team five days a week, Monday-Friday. This includes training for four days with Tuesday set aside as a meeting day. The team consists of both Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding (GS and Slalom). The league does not have a half pipe or slopestyle so the snowboarders are all racing.
The Mammoth High School Ski and Snowboard team is part of CNISSF (California and Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation) which encompasses five divisions. MHS is in the Southern Division of which Connie is the Division Coordinator.
The athletes compete in two series (a series in January, the other in mid-February; each series having a total of four races) for a total of eight races. So, the athletes are really busy. Competitions are usually a Thursday/Friday combination with four GS’s and four Slaloms. The MHS team is fortunate that they don’t have to pay for travel to just do the qualifiers, as the qualifier races currently, are all held here in Mammoth.
Our Division comprises three schools: Mammoth High School, Bishop Union High School and Rim of the World Ski and Snowboard Team. Coach Bill Egen, a former US Ski Team Coach, took over the Bishop program so Mammoth is trying really hard to collaborate with Bishop. The hope is that more teams are added to our Division such as Big Bear High School. Then possibly we would have some competitions down there.
MHS has four coaches: Connie, Dan, Audrey (an alumni which is always a popular choice) and Romo Hastings who has been snowboard coaching for years.
MHS Ski and Snowboard team is the largest Varsity team in MHS with 22 skiers and 12 snowboarders. It has the capacity to facilitate up to 45 participants. Who course sets? That would be Connie!
Connie submits training requests to the Race Department. From there the RD will choose which run to allocate to the school team. “They (RD) are very generous in giving us hill space.” The Race Department also fences off the runs so that it is safe. Do you think that is why people like to come here the best, because of our Mountain support? Connie replies, “For sure. They (Mammoth) put on the best races and they (the visiting teams) love to ski here between the runs. They love the facilities. . .they just love it here.”
Our current team title is the 2022 CNISSF Champions in Women’s and Men’s Skiing. MHS won the women’s section by over 100 points and the Men’s by over 30 points. We are the first out of 26 teams. Coach Connie says, “I would like to emphasize how we are phenomenal in skiing, we dominated!”
(Sophie McMahan - CNISSF All-State Champion - combined SL + GS)
Can anyone join the team?
There is a tryout process because if the ability isn’t there, then there are safety issues. In the last two years, only two athletes have been turned away. The high school team does allow MMSST members to compete with them because if a student/athlete is enrolled in MHS then that person has the right to participate and compete on a varsity team, complying with league and CIF rules. Surprisingly, not all sports are like that. For instance, in Lacrosse, if one is on a club team, they can not compete on a varsity high school team. Four athletes this past season did both the Mountain Team and the School Team. “And I love that, and I welcome that. However, it doesn’t always work with their calendars. Sometimes the athletes can’t compete in one event due to mountain team commitments."
You might be wondering, how much does this all cost and where do the funds come from?
The annual budget just for staffing and race entry fees is $20,000. “Because we are a high school sport, anything that the kids pay for is considered a donation because you have to go by CIF rules. And you can not force anyone to pay to participate in CIF,” says coach Connie. She adds, “Which is good because we are the ski and snowboard team that is most accessible financially for kids in our community. The money that we do get from the school is for transportation, and that’s new. Before we had to fundraise for transportation. The school now is paying for our transportation and depending on how much we have in our ASB funds, the school will pay for our race entries.”
Let’s talk about what MMCF is doing to help the MHS Ski and Snowboard Team.
Coach Connie says, “Race gates were over ten years old, since we didn’t travel because of COVID the race equipment was in really “in bad shape.” The MHS Team doesn’t share any equipment with the Mammoth Mountain race teams so we are completely separate from the MMSST...the kids would hit the gates and the plastic was so old, it was just shattering and really unsafe!” So this year, with help from MMCF, the team was able to buy two bundles of slalom gates and that was combined with the race panels that are attachable. And MMCF also sponsored “a nice bundle of stubbies–we were able to get funds from MMCF for our training supplies,” Connie said.
Besides the support from MMCF, MHS Ski and Snowboard Team raises funds from working the Christmas Tree Lots and with the help of Pete Productions who printed Championship T-shirts and Sweatshirts at cost that the team sold at Championships.
(Conner Burrows - placed 7th in GS State Championships)
Where are the Championships held?
Each year it flip flops. This goes between Mt. Shasta, Northstar and Mammoth. So every third year we are the host. Coach Connie says, “And everyone loves racing here the best. There are over 400 kids from over 30 different schools. They are not here all at the same time because the snowboarders and skiers are not all racing at the same time.” There are generally two days of Snowboard competitions and two days of Ski competitions.
What was it like traveling to the Championships?
“We travel as a team and we have chaperones that go with us that are approved by the school district, because we are CIF and a part of the school. We are CIF and so we have to go by all of the school protocols just like any other varsity team does,” Connie says. Usually, she books accommodations in the fall.” “So I get two houses, a girl’s house and a boy’s house and we travel together in the school vehicles.”
At Championships, when you get a top ten (that would be a place on the podium), you are on the all-state ski team, right?
“That is a huge honor to be on the CINNSF all-state team,” says Connie. MHS had five women and three men achieve this. Coach Connie exclaims, “we dominated half of it” for the slalom. Once on the All-star team, the athletes go to the High School Western Regions where they compete against Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and the leagues from those states. Some of those states have two leagues. For instance, Oregon is one of those.
Any funny Championship team stories you can share with us?
”The last day of our ski team, after the championships, we try to go out and have a fun day. And we borrow ski blades from the mountain teams and we also borrow tele skis and just go out and have a blast. Not that we don’t have a blast on other days of freeskiing, because we do freeski quite a bit too. We don’t just train gates. But on the last day, we were just really goofballs. So one of my athletes, that just can’t seem to ever finish a race, he didn’t even qualify for championships this year, Mertie Morgan, and he’s one of my seniors that I have seen him change and mature so much, he got these blades and decided that he could go off the biggest jumps and through any obstacle he’d like to and kept us all entertained. And so there’s a little pond underneath the rollercoaster chair that melts out in the spring. And he decided that he was going to ski over the pond, do a pond skim. And so I was videoing him and I was like ‘oh, please don’t get hurt.’ And this kid, it’s just like he’ll crash everywhere and never get hurt and so I’m trying to video him and before he could even get to the pond, he crashed. (laughter) He didn’t even make it to the pond!”
Through it all, why does Coach Connie continue to coach year after year?
“Most of these kids I coached as Mighty Mites as well, and I’ve known them a really long time. This is why I do the job. . .I’ve been watching (some of the kids) grow up. It’s very special. Mitchell and Quentin LeFran who are both Seniors this year, they’ll graduate. I took them up to Mt. Rose and got the opportunity to drive them back. . .just the two boys. They were just so polite and sincere.”
Any other stories you would like to share?
“So Mitchell just really wants to win championships, as an individual but it’s a team sport and we need the top 3 boys. And the fourth boy, Mark McConnell fell, and so the first run, Mitchell had won by two seconds in slalom and Mitchell very often skis, we call him “Rodeo” because he skis in the back seat. And he loves to go fast in the backseat, like a Rodeo bull rider. And I’m sweating it, ‘Mitchell, we need your points. Okay Mitchell, you won the first run by two seconds, and I know you want this so bad, but you’ve got to finish, you can’t just rodeo and he said OK.’ And he had the maturity that I’ve never seen and he skied down in such control. He didn’t win the second run, but he got the points and the overall. It just put tears to my eyes, when he showed that maturity.”
“Now the other story is about Quentin. “Q” had never told me this. . .I knew he wasn’t on our team until this year, but I thought he was on the mountain team. He got hurt as an 8th grader. I did not know this until our drive home after the Western Regions. This is the very end of our season and he has had 7 surgeries on his knee, the fourth one being 12 hours long with Dr. Karch and Dr. Crall, the two top orthopedic surgeons here. 12 Hours straight in the operating room. “This was his first season back from that struggle and he never told me the extent of his injury and how hard it was to come back, until the season was completely done. And I asked him, I said ‘Were you ever scared that you were going to reinjure yourself?’ The only time was in this GS, at Mt. Rose, and there’s some steep pitches at Mt. Rose and it gets gnarly. And he had to run 68th and it was fast and it was bumpy and he just grit his teeth and he proved to himself that he was okay and that he could do it. And so driving back I was practically crying because I did not know how extensive/ how amazing his race season was.” At the team End of the Season Party, Quentin was given the Andrea Mead Lawrence Award. It is named that because AML won the Olympics in a slalom race by hiking. “And Quentin came down, first run in the slalom, and he bombed out in the slalom and he decided ‘well, I’m going to keep going.’ He hiked up to the gate that he missed as fast as he could, and he was in about 48th place after the first run. He came down and ‘just smoked it the second run and got 9th overall!’ This was after hiking his first run. For Quentin to have the perseverance to do what he did this year, that’s why I do it.”
Another kid, Ben Knight, moved to Mammoth in his freshman year. He was totally out of place, was mad that he moved here, and could hardly ski at all. He had never run gates and Coach Connie was afraid he was going to hurt himself. He was just barely good enough to be on the MHS team, and yet “he made it and qualified to be in championships, and that’s huge! That is as big of a win as us winning the whole state championships.”
“What this team is all about is keeping skiing and snowboard racing accessible to our local communities and our local schools. Where otherwise, the kids here would not have an opportunity to play and have fun on our mountain. Without MMCF, we could not survive. We could not operate our teams successfully or unsuccessfully, at any capacity. So, the whole reason why I do my job, why I’m so dedicated to it, is so that it stays accessible for as many kids that want to do it here at Mammoth. And it was available to me as an athlete, when I was skiing under Dennis Agee and Dave McCoy. When I was a high school racer here, we were never charged to be on the teams. I am beyond grateful and thankful for those opportunities and how life changing it was for myself, my family and for the kids that I was going to school with and I want to keep that going”, says Coach Connie.
That’s why we do it. That’s why MMCF does it. That’s why MMCF is so grateful for our donors and their support. . .so we CAN do it.