BIWABIK, MINN. - Megan Danelski wanted to bring more intensity to the slope from the outset. Bjorn Halvorson didn't need any extra motivation, but got it from his fellow competitors midway through the day.
The two juniors, Danelski of Hermantown and Halvorson of Minnehaha Academy, won their first Alpine skiing state championships Wednesday at Giants Ridge. Both were considered among the favorites entering the event.
"This is the best feeling," Halvorson said. "It's an awesome feeling to live in the moment, and actually feel it."
Danelski's victory helped Hermantown to its first girls' team championship. Minnetonka won the boys' team crown. The title was the Skippers' fourth since 1996.
"We've had a good skiing program, but have never won the team championship before," Danelski said. "This is really good for our school."Chasing a dream
Danelski made her first appearance in the state meet as a seventh-grader. Since that time her goal was to take the No. 1 spot on the podium.
"When I came here for the first time I was young, and it was very intimidating," Danelski said. "It's been my goal ever since that time to win it."
After finishing third a year ago, a confident Danelski charged out of the gate down the Innsbruck trail. She posted a time of 36.72 seconds on her first run, 18-hundredths of a second faster than her initial run in 2011. East Ridge junior Elizabeth Koprucki posted the second-best time of 37.36.
"I was confident all the way down the hill," Danelski said. "It was a solid all-around run. My time was even better than I thought it would be."
Danelski didn't want to ease up on the second run, but did so out of habit because she held the lead.
"I pulled it back a little bit, especially in the tricky spots," Danelski said. "I still had the same intensity, I just wasn't quite as aggressive."
Danelski's second run (38.71) was about two seconds slower than the first. No challengers overtook her, however, because the bright sun and warm weather conditions were slowing the course. She widened her final margin of victory to more than a second, finishing in 1:15.43. Koprucki was the runner-up in 1:16.55.
"Getting up on the podium was a good feeling," said Danelski, who has improved her finish in each of her five state meets. "That's when it all sunk in, when people were congratulating me."Charging from behind
Halvorson was thought of as the one to catch. Instead, he was looking up to three other skiers at the halfway point. However, his deficit was only three-tenths of a second.
"I used it as motivation," Halvorson said. "They might have beat me the first time, but it wasn't going to happen on the second run."
Halvorson came back with a superb run, posting a time of 34.62 down the Helsinki trail. Coupled with a morning time of 34.82, he finished with an overall winning time of 1:09.44.
"The two courses were very similar," Halvorson said. "It was a little slower for the second run because the sun came out. All you had to do was change your technique a little bit, and be wider on your skis."
Eden Prairie junior Jack Post was the leader after the first run with a time of 34.52. He wound up second in 1:09.65, one-hundreth of a second faster than Jack McNeill, a Blake junior.
"I knew I was still in the race," Halvorson said. "It just came down to me not holding anything back, and skiing faster on the second run."