IRON MOUNTAIN — Upper Peninsula Conference ski race teams traveled to Iron Mountain to the Pine Mountain Resort for an invitational hosted by Norway on Thursday.
Marquette, Houghton and Ironwood joined the Knights in the event. The day consisted of four full races of two runs each, with three slaloms races that were followed by one giant slalom race.
The Norway girls team had a “very good day,” according to Knights coach John Bittinger. The Knights tied Marquette for first place in the giant slalom, an event they have not performed well in as a team this season, and finished only three points behind Marquette overall when the first slalom was combined with the giant slalom results.
Anchoring Norway’s effort in the girls division was the combination of seniors Brooke Bittinger and Gabby Carey, who both put on excellent performances, Coach Bittinger said.
Brooke Bittinger posted her first high school career slalom victory, along with a pair of third-place results, while Carey raced to a pair of second-place finishes and a fourth. Carey won the giant slalom with Bittinger in fifth.
Maria Fornetti had the fifth fastest time in the giant slalom on one run and finished seventh overall. In the slalom, Fornetti posted a seventh- and ninth-place finish.
Megan Bittinger earned a pair of 12th-place results, one in slalom and one in giant slalom. Sofia Ruesch ended with a 14th in one of the slaloms and a 16th in the GS.
“We had this success today without both Finnley Lutz who is out for the season with injury and Ella Rizzo who took a hard crash early in the day and was not able to compete in a number of the races,” the Norway coach said. “That shows the depth of our team to be able to post results like we did without two key skiers.”
In the boys division, Norway’s Ben Fornetti finished seventh in the giant slalom. In one of the slalom races, he posted the fourth fastest time but had a slip on the second run and ended up in 15th place.
Overall, Bittinger said he was please with his teams’ performances.
“Today was a very good day and it comes just four days before we head to regionals in lower Michigan,” Coach Bittinger said. “We were struggling a bit these last few weeks in giant slalom and really hit our stride today. Beating Houghton and tying Marquette in GS like we did today was a big deal for us.
“In giant slalom, those two teams are some of the best in the state and we were able to compete with them. We have always been a very good slalom team, but we also know GS is where we need to step up,” he added. “In the state finals last year, we were in third place after the slalom but ended sixth overall after the GS. We had a focus on GS improvement and we believe they have done a good job.”
The Norway girls team heads to the regional meet Monday at Nubs Nob in Petoskey.