By Chris Villani

Sports Reporter/Columnist

The skiing co-op anchored by Nipmuc and Blackstone Valley Tech is in the midst of another strong season on the slopes with a mix of experienced ski races and recreational skiers who are looking to improve and have fun along the way.

Erin Joyce, who has spent several years as an assistant coach with the program, took over as head coach this year. She said the season has been a success.

“It’s always just such a great group of kids,” Joyce said. “It’s been great to see skiers progress and see how much better they get from the beginning of the year to the end.”

A total of 16 skiers joined the team this year, 14 of them coming from either Nipmuc or BVT with one skier each from Northbridge and Whitinsville Christian rounding out the roster.

Northbridge’s Nina Szymanoski has been the top skier on the girls’ side. Astrid Lee, a Nipmuc junior, and eighth grader Abigail Mullins have also shown themselves to be skilled racers.

Sophomore Ronan Joyce, a Nipmuc student, is eyeing a spot at the state meet this winter along with Szymanoski. Harry Rausch, a Nipmuc senior, is another state contender and Joyce is hopeful that Lee will be able to qualify for that competition as well.

“The goal is always to have as many people as possible qualify for states,” Joyce said.

BVT has brought a strong contingent to the program this year, including senior Baraka Consuerga and freshman Kyle Miller on the boys’ side and junior Jessica Powers and sophomores Payton Alves and Sarah Flynn on the girls’ side. Nipmuc seniors Sydney Vanasse and Caroline DeZutter have been with the program over the past three seasons, despite coming into the program without prior racing experience.

Joyce is hoping to get Nipmuc senior Michael Flanagan back by the end of the season after he suffered an injury.

Adding depth to the roster is Nipmuc sophomore Ashleigh Lupien, Miscoe student Bridget Klupa, and Whitinsville Christian sophomore Liam Menard.

Heading into the week, the co-op still had two races left in the regular season and Joyce said she is hoping to see continued improvement as the season winds to a close.

“It’s one thing to be a recreational skier and it’s another thing to attack gates and really start to get some ski racing form down,” she said. “We love to see their form at the end and see how much they have improved.”

The Nipmuc/BVT Ski Co-Op is having a strong season.