Onekama skier to compete at today’s D-2 state finals

Onekama skier Mallory Stefanski will compete in the giant slalom at today’s Division 2 skiing State Finals at Schuss Mountain in Bellaire. (Courtesy photo)

Onekama skier Mallory Stefanski will compete in the giant slalom at today’s Division 2 skiing State Finals at Schuss Mountain in Bellaire. (Courtesy photo)

Mallory Stefanski will stand atop the giant slalom course at Schuss Mountain in today’s Division 2 girls skiing state finals, and it just might feel like the top of the world.

The state finals mark be the end of a skiing season in which Stefanski said she “had a blast.”

“Being on the Onekama ski team for the past two years has really changed how I look at skiing,” she said. “They’ve made it really fun for me, we always try to take the stress off and try to have fun.”

Onekama head coach Curt Mathieu said that Stefanski has been building to this moment from the time she first set foot on a competitive skiing course at the varsity level.

“She’s had this in her for all four years of high school,” Mathieu said. “She’s that caliber of racer, for one reason or another it just hasn’t worked out. When she’s on, she’s hot. It’s awesome to watch.”

Stefanski, a senior at Manistee High School who also competes for the Chippewa cross country and soccer teams, qualified for the state finals with a 10th-place finish in the giant slalom in the Division 2 regionals on Feb. 17, and very nearly qualified in the slalom as well, finishing in 12th place in that event, just .11 seconds behind the 10th and final qualifier.

“She’s a really powerful slalom skier,” Mathieu said. “I really thought that, if she was going to make it, it would be in that event for sure. I was hoping for both.”

But if Mathieu was surprised that Stefanski qualified in the giant slalom and not the slalom, Stefanski herself was not, saying that the GS is “not as nerve-wracking” as the slalom.

“(Slalom) is easier to mess up because there is less of a radius between the gates,” Stefanski said. “GS is very fast and of course there are fewer turns, so for me, there is not as much as much getting in trouble and having to fix it.”

Stefanski said that she has skied several times over the course of her career at Schuss Mountain, and that her familiarity with it will help rid her of whatever butterflies may arise.

“It’s a tough hill, and it’s pretty steep,” she said. “There are little rollers that you have to get through, and you can get a lot of air if you don’t contain them. Having the experience on the hill will hopefully make it easier.”

The coach and the skier have very different goals for the event. Mathieu said that she has a very real chance of making a top-10 performance in the state finals, in which over 70 skiers will participate.

“I would love to see her on the podium,” he said. “Realistically, she can do it, depending on where she is seeded. That will determine a lot.”

Stefanski herself has somewhat less lofty expectations.

“I just want to go and have fun,” Stefanski said. “By not putting pressure on myself, I tend to do better that way. If I put a lot of pressure on myself, I tend to over-think things and mess up. So, I’m not doing that.”

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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