BIWABIK, Minn. – For most of Wednesday, all Luke Conway could do was wait. The Minneapolis Washburn senior was the second skier down the mountain in the morning and third in the afternoon.
They were good runs. The best, it turned out after his wait ended.
"It's kind of been a dream of mine my whole life," said Conway, who won the boys' Alpine skiing individual state championship at Giants Ridge.
Conway had the fastest time on both runs and his combined time of 1 minute, 10.44 seconds topped Edina sophomore Adam Berghult, who was a favorite entering the meet.
Conway's victory makes it two state champions in the family. His older brother Patrick was the individual winner in 2006. That kind of legacy, alongside a lifetime of coaching from their dad, gave Luke the extra push he needed to top last year's second-place finish.
"I feel really lucky, and I'm super grateful for all the opportunities I've had," he said.
With subzero windchill persisting even as the sun came out for the afternoon run, Conway was more concerned with how hard to push through the slalom gates. The 17-year-old tried not to focus on his time after his first run, but he knew he held a thin lead.
"It was really nerve-racking," he said. "I decided it was best to just do what I do, ski as I know how to ski and try to have some fun with it and hope it worked out. And it did, and I can't ask for much more than that."
His teammates hollered and hugged him in agreement.
Last year's top individual finishers all moved up a place this year, with Conway improving from second to first and Berghult from third to second. This year's third-place finisher, Minnetonka's Eli Quist, finished fourth last year. Last year's champion, Kaarl Damberg of Mounds View, graduated.
Lakeville South won its first Alpine team title, led by Kyle Wentworth and John Olson, who were fourth and ninth, respectively, among skiers in the team competition. The team's 160 points edged second-place Stillwater's 157. Minnetonka, with 146 team points, finished third.
Eagan eighth-grader captures girls' title
Sophia Palmquist, an Eagan eighth-grader, was the girls' Alpine skiing champion.
With a leading morning run and a nimble effort in the afternoon, Palmquist edged out Lakeville North junior and returning state champion Peyton Servais by a quarter of a second.
"It means a lot, it's really cool to do it as an eighth-grader," Palmquist said.
Coming into the state meet with only a few wins after consistently finishing second or third this season, Palmquist's speedy first run set the stage for the rest of her day.
"I thought the first run was really good, and it was a relatively straight course," she said. "The second run was good, but it was a tighter course, so I had to be a little bit more quick. ... It was just to be quick and attack it."
It was just enough.
With a combined time of 1:14.25, Palmquist squeaked by Servais' time of 1:14.52 to deny her back-to-back titles. Minneapolis Southwest senior Elsa Peterson took bronze.
Servais did lead Lakeville North to its first girls' Alpine skiing team title with 165 points. Assisting that effort were strong finishes from Jane Steel and Abby Hahs.
Stillwater took second with 151 points, led by a seventh-place finish by Kirsten Anderson. Orono took third behind a fourth-place showing by Cordelia Shorewood.
Nordic meet Friday
The Nordic state meet, typically held the day after the Alpine meet, has been rescheduled for Friday because of a forecast for subzero temperatures threatening skier safety.
The start time of the first race also was moved back 90 minutes, with the first freestyle race now scheduled for 11:30 a.m. instead of 10 a.m.