by: Juli Churchill, The boys and girls ski teams.

Looking to repeat as state skiing champions, the Sandy boys fell 25 seconds short and finished sixth to state champion Bend High School.

The boy's team finished second in the slalom, 4.42 seconds behind Bend.

'They make the announcements in order from fourth to first (about the slalom) and we didn't know the final standing so when they announced (West Linn in third), the boys were excited to be on the podium,' Sandy head coach Steve Buchholz said. 'Then when they announced (Jesuit) second, we all erupted and were ecstatic.'

Sandy's Steven Brown had Sandy highest individual place, finishing seventh in the individual slalom. Also placing for the Pioneers were, James Snowbarger (13), Eric Chapman (47) and Stasi Rogers (50).

Brown had fallen earlier during the giant slalom and Snowbarger struggled, which led to the team finishing sixth place overall finish.

'(Snowbarger) was the first one on the course and it always gets faster as the day goes on,' Buchholz said. 'James is our strongest skier and if you compare his second run time to the top five, he would have been right there.'

After Brown and Snowbarger had struggled, Sandy's third skier, Eric Chapman was forced to step up and lead the Pioneers.

Chapman finished the giant slalom in 1:15.35 in his first run, placing him tenth. On his second run, he had hip-check (went down and jumped back up) which dropped his time by two seconds, dropping him to twelfth overall.

'Being our No. 3 skier, Eric really came through and skied well,' Buchholz said. 'The guys battled and gave everything they had on the hill today.'

With their second in the slalom and eighth in the giant slalom, the boys fell to sixth this year, still respectable according to Buchholz.

'We had out two top guys struggle (Brown and Snowbarger) and we still finish sixth, I couldn't be more proud of this team. When it comes down to other racers to pick it up and they do, this was a great performance.'

The girls struggled, finishing fourteenth in both the giant slalom and slalom, but moved up to twelfth overall.

' We came in expecting the girls to finish near the middle of the pack, so I'm a little surprised at the finish,' Buchholz said.

Sandy's top three skiers on the girl's team all fell in one of their runs. Katie Kilty, Erin McAllester and Darian Duewiger all fell on the same turn, which slowed their times considerably.

'They all fell on the same turn on one of the two runs,' Buchholz said. 'We probably shouldn't have been skiing on that corner, because it wasn't prepped for skiing. It's not an excuse though, everyone ran the same course.'

Kilty recovered enough in the slalom to finish thirty-fourth to lead the girl's team. McAllester finished forty-sixth and Duewiger forty-eight in he slalom.

In the giant slalom, Kilty fell on her second run, which dropped her time eight second behind her first run. She finished thirty-ninth overall.

The team's finished seventh combined out of 14 teams and Buchholz knows his future is bright.

'Seventh combined will keep us coming back because we know we can do better. We will work hard and next season is going to be fun with all my kids returning, we should be the favorites next year.'

Sandy boys team sixth, combined with the girls 14 allowed Sandy to finish above, among others, Ashland, West Linn and Hood River.

Buchholz said in his first season, while disappointed they didn't repeat on the boys side, he is happy with the results.

'We battled all weekend and won the league title so I am happy about that. The boys improved each week and the girls, some with no competitive skiing before here, really got strong towards the end of the year.'

Buchholz knows that his team's combined seventh place finish, out of 14 teams, will keep the team focusing on improvements.

'Our finish will keep us coming back because we know we can do better. The kids are very focused on improving on this season and are excited about the future.'

Buchholz said the team will prepare twice as hard in preparation for next season, with eyes on returning the state championship back to Sandy.

'We have a lot of people returning and the girls all got a year under their belts which is huge,' Buchholz said. 'We will work hard to bring the title back to Sandy.'

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