The only people in Kuna who were happy with all the snow this winter might have been the racers from the Kuna High School Ski and Board team. The Bogus Basin ski resort hosts high school races for six weeks in January and February. Team members carpool up the mountain during the season to practice and participate in as many of the six qualifying races as possible. Record snowstorms this season permitted the team to get in a whole month of practice before the race season began.

To qualify for the Dotty Clark District Championship Race, students must ski or board in three of the six Saturday qualifying races. Even if they do not successfully hit their turns or finish the race, students who attempt three races qualify to ski in the championship race. Bogus Basin offers a race for every level from novice to expert. The philosophy is that if you can get down the hill at all, you can race. This year, two Kuna students who had never been snowboarding in their life qualified for Dotty Clark.

This is the second year that art teacher David Jones has served as the team adviser for Kuna High School, following in the footsteps of math teacher Gina Morgan, who led the team for over 10 years. Team advisers coordinate activities for students and help run the qualifying and championship races.

“Last year was a huge learning experience for me as I learned the ropes and got to know the students,” Jones said.

Jones is an avid snowboarder who has been teaching art for 10 years.

“This season was a lot more fun, though still a lot of work,” he said.

One of Jones’ best experiences of this season was the Dotty Clark Championship, where, as soon as the team arrived and unpacked, the whole team “saddled up” and rode up the lift for a group run. All day long the kids rode together and cheered together. At the expert ski race, where Jones helped keep and record times, one of the Kuna racers crashed — always a heartbreak on the final race — but from the bottom of the hill, Jones could hear a distinct group of Kuna kids cheer their fallen friend on, as he collected himself and got back down the mountain. Through injuries, disappointment, and runs all day, the Kuna racers stayed together and cheered together.

“During the awards, there was no section louder than the Kuna Ski and Board team as each racer got an Olympic-sized ovation from their peers,” Jones said. “Whether they won first place or third place. With seven awards from 22 racers, we had a lot to cheer about. It’s a great sport for a lot of kids.”

Centennial High School took home the team championship in the large schools division, which consists of 13 teams. Kuna finished eighth overall, ahead of Nampa High School, Timberline High School, Capital High School, Cole Valley High School and Sage International High School.

The race that draws the most participants is the slalom course, a competition where racers make sharp turns to cut through a series of poles on a downhill course, challenging both their speed and agility. Blake Morrill carved his way to first place in the men’s novice slalom ski race with a time of 20.50. Jacob Fisher, a first-time skier this season, finished ninth with a time of 24.06. Savannah Dotson won third in the women’s novice slalom ski race, with a time of 24.22.

Bryan Black finished fifth in the men’s intermediate slalom ski race with a time of 26.40. Kuna dominated the men’s intermediate slalom snowboard race, with Tyler Mick receiving the gold with a time of 16.82, and Jasen Wright with the bronze, coming in at 17.13. Faith Vander Woude of Kuna finished eighth in the women’s intermediate slalom race, skiing a 29.31.

This year, the team got a boost from foreign exchange student Liz De Vries, a native of the Netherlands, who won a third-place medal in the women’s expert slalom snowboarding race. Kuna’s Josh Sanchez took third place in the men’s expert slalom snowboarding expert event, getting down the mountain in 26.50.

Freestyle skiing and snowboarding are events that challenge daredevil snow athletes with rails, boxes and jumps. Freestyle skiing was added to the Winter Olympics as a competition event in 1992; freestyle snowboarding was added in 1998. Few students are bold enough to participate in the freestyle races at Bogus Basin. At the Dotty Clark championship, Kuna’s Ben Donerkiel placed eighth in the men’s intermediate freestyle skiing event. In the expert freestyle boarding event, Jake Sturman’s hard work during the season paid off, earning him a silver medal.

At the end of each season, the team takes a day off from school to travel to a different ski resort for a day of fun. Last year the students went to Brundage, near McCall, and this year they hit Tamarack, outside of Donnelly. The kids were grateful Jones set everything up and made the trip and the season possible. Tamarack was a great way to wrap up a successful season.

“I am already excited for next season,” Jones said. “Hopefully, we can grow our team and get some more racers. More importantly, I am confident our racers will continue to represent Kuna well, as friends and as members of a great community.”

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