Smooth Fast & Natural: Blake Skiers Impress on National Slopes

Chris Hall '14, Staff Writer

Some Blake skiers go beyond the Blake ski team, compete at a national level and do extraordinarily well. I recently got a chance to sit down with Jack McNeill ’13, who has been racing competitively with USSA/FIS on the national level races since he was seven years old.

Currently, McNeill is ranked 5th in the nation in slalom for his age group and in the past has been ranked as high as 1st nationally. Last year he qualified for J2 Nationals, which consists of 50 of the best 15 and 16 year olds from around the nation. To qualify, a person has to be one of the top five skiers in their region, so this was quite an accomplishment.

As if his national feats aren’t enough, McNeill is also the top skier on the Blake boys ski team. During his first two years on the team, McNeill earned all conference and all state honors, including two top fifteen appearances at the State Meet. Although high school racing is not as competitive, he enjoys the Blake team because it fosters a sense of community.

McNeill hopes to, “ski my personal best at every race for the team and to win state as an individual.” He also wants to contribute to the Blake team as much as possible.

Because he competes in both high school and USSA/FIS races, McNeill is very busy and misses about 50 school days a year. In response my asking how he handles missing so much class, he replied, “I miss school just like any other kid would; I don’t have any tutors etc. I just do my work when I get done skiing, whenever that may be.” He also mentioned that his parents only allow him to ski if his grades are satisfactory.

McNeill hopes to ski for a Division I program in college, although he realizes that this is an ambitious goal. However, daunting competition hasn’t seemed to faze him in the past.

Teddy Ankeny ‘14 and Tessa Ide ’13 also ski competitively for USSA/FIS. Ankeny has qualified for Junior Olympics for three consecutive years, and he is currently ranked 11th in the nation for his age group in slalom. Ide has skied in the Junior Olympics for four consecutive years. This past summer, she traveled to Switzerland to train for two weeks with world class skiers from around the globe.

The Blake team maintains a strong presence nationally due to frequent appearances by McNeill, Ankeny and Ide in USSA/FIS competitions. Expect great performances from this trio at the 2012 State Meet.