Thursday, 16 March 2023 11:29

Ballston Spa’s Cole Evans Wins Boys Giant Slalom State Title

Ballston Spa’s Cole Evans (left) and coach Mitch Huff (right) pictured after Evans won the 2023 NYSPHSAA State Championship in the boys giant slalom  (Photo provided by Mitch Huff) Ballston Spa’s Cole Evans (left) and coach Mitch Huff (right) pictured after Evans won the 2023 NYSPHSAA State Championship in the boys giant slalom (Photo provided by Mitch Huff)

CANANDAIGUA — There’s a first time for everything, and Cole Evans’ first skiing victory couldn’t have come at a better time.

Evans, a junior at Ballston Spa, won the NYSPHSAA State Championship in the boys giant slalom event, posting a time of 2:14.10 across two runs at Bristol Mountain in Canandaigua. Evans said it was his first-ever race victory.

“I’ve had a number of podiums, but never a win,” said Evans. “I was pretty surprised, honestly.”

Ballston Spa head coach Mitch Huff said it is “gratifying” to see the team’s athletes have success. Evans was first coached by Huff after he began competing in ski races at Gore Mountain at a young age.

“That’s the whole purpose of why we do it, is to see these kids have success within the high school races,” said Huff. “That’s what it’s all about for us.”

Entering states off a strong regular season, Evans said he was hoping to finish in the top 10 in both the giant slalom and the slalom events. 

“Obviously I’m very competitive, but I wasn’t going to be hard on myself at all,” said Evans. “Kind of just go out, have fun, see how I do.”

Evans started in 55th place out of 64 skiers, and his first run came in at 1:08.25, the top time for opening runs. Evans said his mindset for the runs was to “hold on and stay alive.”

“It was a pretty intense course, both with the weather conditions making the snow a little bit choppy, and just the length of the course being longer than any of the regular season courses that we were doing,” Evans said. “But there’s not a lot going on in your head while you’re going, you’re just kind of blacked out, going on ‘go’ mode.”

Huff, who was assisting other Section 2 skiers, said he did not actually get to see either of Evans’ runs, instead hearing of his early lead from another coach.

“As I get the athlete in his skis, (the coach) goes, ‘Hey Mitch, do you have Live-Timing?’, which is the app that you have for results,” said Huff. “I radioed, ‘No, I’m putting so-and-so in their boots,’ and he says, ‘Well, Cole just won the first run.’”

Evans’ second run was even quicker than his first, finishing with a time of 1:05.85. With a combined time of 2:14.10, Evans beat out Queensbury’s Hudson Montgomery (2:14.94) for the giant slalom state championship. Evans also finished 10th in the slalom.

Evans said “it feels good” to be recognized, noting that he is not only receiving congratulations from his school and classmates, but that it is also helping highlight the sport of skiing.

“I’ve had a lot of classmates congratulate me, my school has recognized me,” said Evans. “It feels good for the sport in general, which doesn’t get a lot of attention.”

Huff, along with other district parents, helped revive the Ballston Spa skiing program in recent years. The program had success in the past, with the girls alpine ski team (combined with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) winning back-to-back state titles in 2011 and 2012.

“It’s been a pleasant surprise to see how many kids have shown interest in it,” said Huff, who noted he is in his eighth season as the team’s coach. “It’s very gratifying for me to see those kids progress, and have success.”

Evans said he found the balance and team aspect of the high school team to be a great fit.

“Throughout the whole season, the guys on the team are my closest friends, really, because we’re in the weight room every day,” said Evans. “We’re just spending a lot of time together, so you build the social relationship while you’re doing the sport. I think it’s really good.”

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