This winter the Mora Mustangs Nordic ski teams feature their biggest-ever number of participants. And thanks to Vasaloppet volunteers, they’ve already begun to practice on a manufactured snow surface.
Last season the Mustangs boys and girls teams both finished second in Section 5A and advanced to the State Tournament, where the boys finished 12th overall and the girls finished 14th.
Head coach Peter Larsen had this to say about the 2019-20 season:
Q: What’s different for this season’s team, compared to last season?
A: On the boys side we lost many of our top-seven skiers, and just one of the top seven girls skiers. This creates an opportunity for others to step up and fill those gaps. There’s a number of younger skiers who put the time in this summer and are really charging hard to improve their times this year. They will push themselves and their teammates.
Q: What challenges do you expect the team to face this year?
A: The weather can always be a challenge, though it seems we’re ahead of it so far this year. We’ve been skiing already on a short loop of manufactured snow, thanks to the Vasaloppet Snow Farmers.
Q: How does the coaching staff prepare for a new season?
A: At the end of each season, and again at the beginning of each new season, we meet and talk about all aspects: what went well, what didn’t and what we can do to improve. We make it a priority to constantly improve our program and what it can offer.
Q: What makes a player a good team captain?
A: Our team is lucky to have great team captains in seniors Cooper Lennox, Johanna Schwinghamer and Gen Woods. The main thing that makes a good captain is being a good role model, one who understands the goals of the program and works hard to fulfill those goals each day at practice. Captains also need to have the courage to stand up for their team and what is best for the program, even when it is difficult.
Q: How do you think participation in athletics affects students beyond the ski trails?
A: Our team values are commitment and dedication to excellence, professionalism and accountability; and respect for the sport, self, teammates, competitors and coaches. These values extend far beyond the ski trail in any endeavor our skiers venture into. I think the skills learned as part of a team, working toward the same goals, are incredibly valuable and extend far beyond the sport setting.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to mention about the upcoming season?
A: This year we have our biggest team yet, and we’re really excited that the program continues to grow. Our home meet is Friday, Dec. 20, at 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 21, at 10 a.m. We’d love to have some fans out there cheering on the Mustangs.
The Mustangs’ season opener is at Sartell on Thursday, Dec. 5.