This time, he knew just how to do it
EAGLE-VAIL – High school has taught Mitch Hendrix an important lesson in time management. Hendrix, the Battle Mountain senior, applied his earlier experiences, along with a lot of hard work and sheer talent, to claim this year’s Skimeister title.”I tried it freshman year,” Hendrix said. “The only problem was I was racing in (United States Ski Association) races, which was a full-time alpine program, so I didn’t have time to be competitive (in Skimeister). I tried my hardest, but I wasn’t as competitive as I could have been.”Three years later, Hendrix tried just as hard, but didn’t put as much on his plate. Heading into this season, Hendrix had already decided he was going to focus on Skimeister. “I didn’t race in any FIS races this year, and I devoted most of my time to high school racing,” Hendrix said.All the devotion paid off, as Hendrix brought home the glass globe Friday night from the state ski meet awards held in his home gym in Eagle-Vail.”It feels absolutely great,” Hendrix said.
“It was his goal and he did it,” said Battle Mountain Alpine coach Simon Marsh. “He’s such a great athlete and earned the respect of all those skiers out there.”Hendrix compiled 158 out of a possible 160 points, edging Vail Mountain freshman Sean Woods by nine. Hendrix earned a perfect 80 points on the alpine side. Competitors are scored on their best two out of three races in both alpine and Nordic disciplines. The top Skimeister finisher in each race is awarded 20 points.”That was one of my goals – to not just let my alpine game go because that might have been what won me Skimeister,” Hendrix said.Not only did Hendrix finish top among Skimeister racers, he was often one of his team’s top finishers. “He was getting top 10’s … even in the state finals,” Marsh said. “When he had the one disqualification in Steamboat, that got him fired up to do really well for the next one.”After Hendrix earned no points at the Steamboat slalom, the first of the year, he had to finish the next two races to stay in the Skimeister running. Still, Hendrix was able to pick up 40 points.On the slalom side, Hendrix was the only boys’ Battle Mountain skier to earn all state honors, and one of three to earn the honors on the giant slalom side.
Following his freshman year, Hendrix didn’t Nordic ski for two years.”I was kind of surprised I came back as easily as I did,” Hendrix said. “I thought it was going to be much more of a growing process.”It wasn’t as if Hendrix just hopped on his skis for the first race, though. Hendrix spent some of the summer and a lot of the fall training for Nordic with Dan Weiland at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, along with some of the Vail Mountain racers.In the first two Nordic races of the season, Hendrix earned 20 points, while he took second to Woods in the second two.”(Sean) did unbelievably – his Nordic game almost won him Skimeister,” Hendrix said.Last year, Woods’ brother Chris, a Vail Mountain senior, won Skimeister. In 2005, Battle Mountain’s Grant Stevenson won.”Ultimately, I was glad it stayed in the Vail Valley,” Hendrix said.With Hendrix graduating, Sean Woods is the heir apparent to the crown.
During the season, Hendrix varied his training depending on the upcoming races.”One thing that made it easier to train was the fact that you didn’t have a Nordic race right after an alpine day,” Hendrix said. “It was usually more spread out. The week I had alpine, I’d train alpine and when I had Nordic, I’d train Nordic.”Hendrix, who competed in FIS alpine races his sophomore and junior year, appreciates the help he got this year both with skiing and school.”My dad, I thank him a lot for shuttling me around, brining my equipment and taking me to training so I didn’t have to drive,” Hendrix said. “And I thank my mom a lot for helping me get through my classes.”Only a week before state, Hendrix came down with a cold, and skipped the final Nordic race in Carbondale. But Hendrix kept training and even got in a FIS race at Beaver Creek to gear up for the alpine side.
Saturday, after his marathon week, Hendrix took a day off, but he’ll be in the gym Tuesday when baseball starts up. A catcher and pitcher, Hendrix also played football until sophomore year.As for the rest of the winter, Hendrix has yet to decide what skiing discipline he’ll pursue.”I’m thinking alpine to progress into baseball a little bit. Alpine (fitness) is a little more bulky, like how you would try to beef up for baseball,” Hendrix said.So what can we except the hurler’s go-to pitch to be when the snow finally melts?”I’ve gotta keep that one a secret,” Hendrix said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.