Chelsea-Saline Ski Team Heads into Regionals


Caden Faupel speeds down the hill.

Natalie Davies, Bleu Print Staff

The Chelsea-Saline combined ski team is headed into regionals week with their heads held high and their goals in sight.

Four members from Chelsea, Caden Faupel(‘21), Sydney Collins(‘20), Erik Koseck(‘20) and Makayla Collins(‘23), and 8 members from Saline make the 40 plus minute drive to Mount Brighton for practices and races up to 6 times a week. 

Caden Faupel started skiing at age 4 and has been ski racing since age 8. He said his dad got him into skiing and his love for the sport and the people have kept him in it. Almost 4 years ago, Caden reached out to Laura Dillmann, the current head coach, who is from Saline and has daughters that he skied with in the past. Together, she and Caden advocated for the creation of the team.

“Starting the high school team was part of my passion project and I worked on it with Laura Delmond,” Faupel said.  “I reached out to her and said, ‘hey, let’s get this going.’ I definitely did not fully start it, but I helped start the team and it was part of my idea to try to combine the team with Saline so we could both have enough people to have a team.”

Once the team was created, so was a bond of dedicated skiers. Skiers on the team devote hours of their time to their sport, and put in a lot of work to get better. Faupel explained that consistency and hard work are what make good skiers great.

“It’s exactly like cross country with how you don’t really want to take days off,” he said. “It’s an iron sharpens iron type deal where I’m at the hill six days a week and I’m always gonna progress and keep improving. The people that aren’t there and aren’t willing to work for it aren’t gonna progress the same way as those who are.”

With dedicating so much time to driving to Brighton and back, practicing, and competing, it can be a challenge for skiers to balance school with their sport. Faupel asserted that though “it can be a struggle to keep up with schoolwork at times, it is still manageable.” 

“You gotta want it [to keep that balance] and you have to work harder for it in season,” he said. “I usually go straight from school to practice every day. I’ll do homework at the ski hill, and I have kind of grown to like doing homework right there. It is a lot. Sometimes everything from catching a cold, to being at the hill six days a week to big assignments due all at once can get caught up to you and the homework piles up. That is not a fun experience.”

With skiing being an outdoor winter sport, conditions matter in the successes and game-plans of the skiers. Faupel explained that each race the conditions are a little different, but they can always be workable. He said there is no condition that every skier sees as the perfect one, and that it all depends on preference.

“There’s some nights where it’s an all out race and there’s other nights where it is very icy and it turns to who has the better strategy and who is the better technical skier,” he said. “Some people like icy snow, some people like loose snow. Earlier in the season there was dirt in the course because there wasn’t enough snow on the hill and it just got really rutted out and there was just like loose snow. It was almost like skiing gates in a mogul field(a super bumpy type of course.) People fell left and right, and I myself ended up crashing.”

With the different conditions, crashes, and physical demands on your body, injury is not uncommon in ski racing. Faupel said that in his day he has seen a few bad crashes and been in a few himself. He claimed some of the most common injuries are knee injuries and concussions.

“Just this year I saw a girl completely tear her ACL, MCL and meniscus during a race,” Caden exclaimed. “That’s probably one of the worst injuries possible, but that’s a very common injury. In ski racing on some nights, maybe not on Mount Brighton but out west or on steeper hills, you’re reaching speeds of up to 60 MPH going down the hill. If you crash it doesn’t always feel good, but there are crashes where it doesn’t hurt.”

Caden claimed that at Mount Brighton most skiers hit around 40 MPH going down the hill.

“Going that speed gives such an adrenaline rush,” he said. “It’s one of many reasons why I still love the sport so much.”

This Thursday, the skiers will compete at regionals for the chance to go to states. Skiing, like cross country, is scored by the placing of the finishers(first place is one point, second place is 2 points, and etc.) and the team with the least amount of points wins. Every race day skiers take on two different courses, and regionals is no different. The girls and the guys teams are not scored together. Their meets take place at the same time, but the girls run one course while the guys run the other and the points for girls and guys are not combined.

To make it to the state meet, you must finish top 3 as a team or a top 10 individual finisher excluding the skiers that are on a team already going to state. Besides aiming for state as a team, Faupel says he and Eric specifically are shooting for being in that top 10 that automatically qualify.

“I’m excited to see how this season and the next season turn out,” he remarked. “I think Eric and I could do some damage to this off-season at regionals and states. I got Some big goals, and I think it’ll be pretty cool. Erik and I are both looking to qualify for state, and Eric has a good shot at being the top guy and taking first place overall for the second year in a row,” Faupel said. 

Reaching these goals will no doubt be tough, but the team has put in the work and could definitely achieve what they set out to do. Caden said the experience of the skiers makes the sport super competitive. 

“It’s a very competitive sport once you get into it,” he claimed. “You have your racers there that started racing in like high school, and then you have racers like Eric and I that have been racing our entire lives. That’s what makes it so competitive— the guys that have been training their entire lives for racing and it’s just the whole atmosphere out there is very competitive and very fun. There’s a lot of cockiness in the sport because it’s very important, at least from what I’ve experienced, to believe in yourself, know what you’re capable of and race night. You have to have a little bit of an ego and competitive edge with ski racing, I think that’s very important.”

Though there are many aspects of skiing that are not a part of other sports, Faupel expound that the bonds formed with the other skiers are what make the sport the most special.

“It’s very different from any sport I’ve experienced or been through,” Faupel said. “Once you’re out on that hill, there’s no rival like Chelsea vs Brighton or anything like that. You go on that hill and you’re around people that have the same passions as you do and enjoy the same stuff you do. You make a lot of friends outside your team. And it’s a really cool family environment, and it feels like the entire hill is your team out there. Some of my best friends are from the schools we compete against. It’s really cool to see how skiing brought us together and how we’re all friends outside and inside of the sport.”

There are not many members on the team currently and two of four Chelsea members graduate this year, so there is plenty of room for new members to get involved in this sport that is like no other. The team is always looking for members, no matter what skill level they are, and would love to have anyone who wants to be there and work hard. For more information on how to get involved with the ski team, talk to Caden at school or contact him via his school email.

“Please reach out to me you’re interested,” he said. “Even if you’re only remotely interested, just reach out. I have a lot of spare gear and if you want to go skiing for a day, I would be more than willing to offer my time. I’ve helped people learn how to ski in the past, and I’m sure I can do it now. It is something I’m very passionate about and it’s a very cool sport if anybody has the time and wants to try it out.”