Facing the top competition in the state, Eric Zard knew he had nothing to lose in the state alpine ski meet Thursday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
Zard stayed true to his style of skiing that had gotten him this far in a snow-deficient season. That style was fast and furious.
However, it may have been too much of the latter as Zard fell on his second and final run and was unable to finish.
"The second run was on a harder, more difficult course," Zard said. "About 20 other guys fell other than me. Overall, it was a pretty nice course and I had a lot of fun skiing."
Besides facing a difficult course, Zard also faced some rugged competition. Of the 40 skiers racing for a championship, Zard estimated that 70 to 80 percent were United States Ski Association skiers. Zard also said that most of the top skiers in the state were on the USSA developmental team and race year round.
"There were some of the top skiers in the Midwest racing," Brainerd coach Jim Ruttger said. "There was only a handful, Eric included, that aren't racing with USSA."
Zard was in 26th place after his first run. He knew that he needed to lower his time if he wanted to meet his goals for the race.
On his second run, Zard went out with abandon until the edge of his ski got caught and he tumbled. Zard, along with 16 other racers, did not finish.
"Eric skis his race," Ruttger said. "He attacked the course and went all out.
"At the slot he was racing in the second run he was able to see the other skiers go down first. All he had to do was finish the run and he would have finished in the top 20. It just didn't happen today."
Zard said, "I was a little farther back than I wanted to be after my first run. I tried to go faster on the second run and push myself as fast as I could. I have no regrets."
Instead of being disappointed about not finishing, Zard was more upset the rest of the team wasn't competing with him and wasn't able to enjoy the experience as much as he did.
"I really wanted to go to state as a team," Zard said. "Our team really skied great all season long."
To make it to state at all was an accomplishment for Zard. He missed his sophomore season and part of his junior year due to health problems. But once he got back on the hills, Zard didn't hold anything back.
"You've got to give Eric a ton of credit," Ruttger said. "He had some health issues early in his career and we were just amazed how well he skied when he came back his junior year.
"All season long this year, he's stood on the podium. You couldn't ask for more out of an athlete."
Boys Team points
1. Edina, 153; 2. Benilde-St. Margaret's, 147; 3. St. Thomas Academy, 136; 4. Marshall School, Duluth, 128; 5. Forest Lake, 123; 6. Stillwater Area, 117; 7. Woodbury, 108; 8. Mahtomedi, 95
1. Tyler Nelson, Chisago Lakes, 1:02.09; 2. Colin Charleson, Woodbury, 1:03.03; 3. Chris Prem, Benilde-St. Margaret's, 1:03.07; 4. Nelson Carlson, St. Thomas Academy, 1:03.88; 5. Jesse Lindemer, Forest Lake, 1:04.35; 6. Tom Shephard, Park, Cottage Grove, 1:04.81; 7. Tague Thorson, Mahtomedi, 1:04.87; 8. Chauncey Charleson, Woodbury, 1:04.98; 9. David Priest, Virginia, 1:05.46; 10. Pat McCool, Bloomington Jefferson, 1:06.60
Girls Team points
1. Edina, 158; 2. Benilde-St. Margaret's, 152; 3. Virginia, 147; 4. Stillwater Area, 138; 5. Duluth East, 119
6. Visitation, 116; 7. Burnsville, 87; 8. Mounds View, 65
1. Katie Lee, Stillwater Area, 1:16.98; 2. Jackie Marceau, Benilde-St. Margaret's, 1:17.26; 3. Claire Abbe, Burnsville, 1:17.50; 4. Brittany Nelson, Chisago Lakes, 1:18.55; 5. Catherine Malovrh, Virginia, 1:19.32; 6. Molly McCary, Edina, 1:20.81; 7. Sonja Jennings, Duluth East, 1:21.12; 8. Catherine Brown, Benilde-St. Margaret's, 1:22.42; 9. Eliner Bradbury, Edina, 1:22.71; 10. Hannah Condon, Shakopee, 1:22.84
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