WESTFIELD – Change is in the air.
This upcoming high school ski season at St. Mary’s High School has a different feel to it.
For the first time in the team’s seven-year history, a Masciadrelli will not win a Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference individual championship.
There are two reasons for that – (1) St. Mary’s skier Jack Masciadrelli graduated last spring and (2) ski championships will not be held due to the ongoing pandemic.
Last season, then St. Mary’s High School senior Jack Masciadrelli put a stamp on his final year as a Saint, winning the Giant Slalom and Slalom races to singlehandedly claim the combined individual title at the PVIACs at Berkshire East in Charlemont.
Masciadrelli held off Northampton’s Nate Jones in both championship races. The St. Mary’s senior skier placed first in the GS in 25.39, just ahead of Jones (25.47), and recorded a winning time of 34.92 in the Slalom. Jones finished in 35.15.
One year earlier, Masciadrelli skied his way to a third place overall finish at states with a combined time of 58.25.
A year before that, Jack’s brother, Matt, a senior at the time, cemented his legacy on the skiing circuits, winning the GS at the PVIAC Championships for the third straight year.
So while someone other than Masciadrelli will come out of Western Massachusetts as the area’s top skier, there are other changes coming to the landscape.
Due to coronavirus concerns, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s COVID-19 Task Force recently released several modifications to the sport that was approved by the MIAA Board, forcing teams to adopt rules changes, and adapt.
While masks or gaiters are required at all times, social distancing protocols will require six feet between all athletes. Workouts will be conducted in pods of students with the same 5-10 skiers always working out together. Schools are also expected to arrive at Berkshire East in a staggered manner with skiers already dressed and equipment ready for competition. Once each skier is finished on the slope, he or she is required to leave immediately.
St. Mary’s High School ski coach Andy Lussier said he believes the PVIAC will follow the U.S. Ski & Snowboard organization’s lead and limit the racing field to 100 skiers for each race. That likely means that 100 girls will compete against one another in a typical race, and 100 boys in the other. That decision is expected in the coming weeks.
“I think the go-ahead is great,” coach Lussier said. “I think, just like with the fall season, even if (the winter season) is abbreviated, (our skiers) have something. Kids need to remain actively engaged in sports. Having an outlet is a good thing.”
Although both halves of “Shake & Bake” graduated this past spring – – Jack Masciadrelli and Hayden Lussier earned that moniker over the years due to their sensational efforts – – Hayden’s sister, Chloe, will return for her senior season.
“She is the driving force on the girls team,” coach Lussier said of his daughter, Chloe.
Chloe and eighth grader Eliana Umana Kimura, who the Saints head coach has tabbed as “one to watch,” “a skilled athlete,” “good skier,” and “competitive,” are expected to anchor the girls ski team this season.
Eliana’s brother, Manny, and Colin Freeman figure to make up the core of the boys team this season, according to the head coach.
“We are still encouraged about this season,” coach Lussier said. “Despite COVID, we can still compete. Something is better than nothing.”