×

Back in the Snow: Oxbow Revives Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Oxbow junior Cody Grant works out on the stairs during early-season training at the high school in Bradford, Vt., on Dec. 20, 2017. Grant is part of the revived ski and snowboard team, competing as a snowboarder. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Coach Josh Allen times his son Carter doing wall sits during early-season training at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Dec. 20, 2017. Josh Allen is leading the revived ski and snowboard team and Carter is competing as a skier on the team. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Oxbow's Cody Grant, left, and Carter Allen work out in the high school weight room in Bradford, Vt., on Dec. 20, 2017. Grant and Allen are part of the school's revived ski and snowboard team -- Grant is snowboarding and Allen is skiing on the team. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Josh Allen, of Bradford, Vt., answers a question during an interview at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Dec. 20, 2017. Allen is the coach of the Oxbow's revived ski and snowboard team. He is a 1998 Oxbow graduate who competed as a skier while in high school. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2017 file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison arrives at Heinz Field for an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Pittsburgh. The Patriots signed Harrison, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, after he was released on Saturday by the Steelers. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Bradford, Vt. — A long-dormant wintertime activity at Oxbow High is once again gaining significant traction.

The Olympians have resurrected their skiing and snowboarding team, becoming the school’s first varsity snow sports program since its alpine and cross country team disbanded in the late 1990s.

Oxbow, which will train at Northeast Slopes in East Corinth and at Dartmouth Skiway in Lyme, has drawn a total of 13 male athletes — seven skiers and six snowboarders — who thus far have engaged in dry-land training inside Oxbow High and a team outing to Richmond, Vt.’s Bolton Valley Ski Area. A second trip to Bolton Valley scheduled for Sunday has been postponed because of extremely low temperatures in the forecast.

Olympians coach Josh Allen, a 1998 Oxbow graduate, skied for the team’s previous incarnation and doubles as president of Bradford Youth Sports, an all-volunteer nonprofit offering baseball, softball, basketball and soccer. Allen, whose son, Carter, is a freshman skier, wanted to restart the program to give Oxbow athletes another alternative to traditional ball sports. The school also supports varsity bowling.

“It’s important to give these guys something to do other than basketball in the wintertime, because some kids just aren’t that into it,” Josh Allen said. “Skiing and snowboarding are lifestyle sports, where you can participate for a long time after high school. Most of these guys have already been skiing for a long time. They started with the (Bradford Elementary School) program, so this gives them an outlet at the high school level.”

So far, the program’s most devoted people are Carter Allen and junior snowboarder Cody Grant.

Grant, a pitcher and infielder for Oxbow’s baseball team, suited up for the Olympians’ junior varsity basketball team last winter. He’s excited for the opportunity to compete on his snowboard, especially slopestyle, which incorporates rails and jumps and awards points in part for quality of tricks. Other snowboarding disciplines scored by the VPA are giant slalom and halfpipe.

“I definitely want to get out there on the rails and jumps. It’s super fun,” Grant said. “The basketball team has a lot of good athletes this year. I probably wasn’t going to get much playing time, so this kind of came at the perfect time.”

Grant estimates he first tried snowboarding at the age of 7 or 8. He hopes to make progress from meet to meet this season without setting expectations too high.

“Realistically, I’d like to get to where I’m middle of the pack at slopestyle events,” Grant said. “It’s still pretty new to me, and I know there are a lot of good high school snowboarders in Vermont. I’m not expecting many top-three finishes.”

Carter Allen, who’s been skiing since pre-kindergarten, has similarly modest aspirations for his debut competitive season.

“The goal will be pretty much to get down the hill without crashing,” Carter Allen said with a laugh. “I’m going to be looking mostly at beating my own times instead of trying to beat everybody else.”

Along with the facilities where they plan to train, the Olympians are working with various ski shops to make sure the team is properly equipped. Each athlete needed a new helmet to meet FIS safety standards — a VPA mandate beginning this season, Josh Allen said.

“The most important thing this season is that the kids feel comfortable when they’re out there and enjoy what they’re doing,” the coach said. “The goal is really to get them more time on the snow and let the results take care of themselves for the time being.”

Still, Allen is glad it appears the Olympians will field the necessary four athletes per discipline to qualify for team scores at meets, and so is their competition. Oxbow intends to participate in late February’s Southern District championships, hosted by Woodstock at Suicide Six. The meet determines which three of the district’s teams advance to compete at states.

Woodstock coach Fred Dieffenbach will welcome the extra push from Oxbow.

“In the Southern District, it’s been the same three teams that have qualified for states for many years: Woodstock, Rutland and Burr & Burton,” Dieffenbach said. “At some point, there is a risk of complacency for those three teams. So while it’s possible that another team could come in and take one of our spots at states, I think competition is a good thing and that it will only help us.”

The Olympians’ combined skiing and snowboarding rosters have no seniors and just three juniors. Joining a large group of freshmen and sophomores are a pair of junior high snowboarders.

Oxbow athletic director Brianne Barnes hopes junior high interest increases as the program continues.

“We definitely want to build up interest at the middle school level, so that when they get to high school, they have a sense of what it’s all about,” Barnes said.

Oxbow opens the season on Wednesday at Bromley Mountain in a meet hosted by Burr & Burton.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.