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Woodstock Academy team photo after last week's practice. Right: Showing off the new speed suit is Zach Brody. Photos by Kevin Brody.

The high school winter athletic season, for most, is still scheduled to begin with preseason practices on Jan. 19.
The final decision on that start date has yet to be made by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference as it awaits guidance from the Connecticut Department of Health.
But one team at The Woodstock Academy is already getting ready for its season.
The alpine ski team began practice at Mt. Southington last week and will have three practices before opening its five-race regular season on Jan. 28.
Skiing is not sponsored by the CIAC but rather the Connecticut Interscholastic Ski League.
Because the sport is held outside and all competitors are socially distanced and required to wear masks, the league felt comfortable moving forward and schools such as Woodstock Academy have chosen to participate.
“We definitely have a season,” said Centaurs coach Kevin Brody. “We are taking our own personal precautions but some schools strictly follow CIAC rules so some are still questionable. Some of the larger schools will have their numbers limited (by Mt. Southington). We’re not in that boat. Thankfully, Woodstock Academy is very accommodating. It definitely supports us and wants to see this happen.”
It’s the second ski season for Woodstock Academy which remains the only school in Eastern Connecticut to field an alpine ski team.
The team will, at least, start with four boys and four girls participating.
Those numbers will be led by senior Zach Brody on the boys’ side and junior Eliza Simpson on the girls.
Zach Brody was instrumental in getting the program off the ground.
He spent his first two years at the Academy proposing the idea before seeing it come to fruition last year.
“I was really the one who wanted to create this whole thing from the get-go. I saw my friends really get into racing at their high school so I was like, ‘Why can’t we do that here’?,” said Zach Brody.
Zach Brody and Simpson were the experienced skiers on the team, both having been on skis since, in Simpson’s case, she was 2-years-old when her father picked her up and took her down the hill at Mt. Snow in Vermont.
She was skiing regularly on her own about a year later.
“Mount Southington is a lot easier to ski,” Simpson said with a laugh. “In Vermont, I participate on race courses that are over a minute long which is an endurance (race). It’s like 25-second races at Mt. Southington.”
In other words, a sprint opposed to a marathon.
“I like sprinting better. Racing distance, you can make a mistake and come back from it. In sprinting, it’s how perfect can you get everything and I’m a perfectionist,” she added.
Last season, Simpson earned Team Connecticut honors and competed on a team that vied for the Eastern Region championship.
“The season, overall, went really well for everybody including myself. It was a great year because everyone’s skill level got progressively better,” Simpson said.
Kevin Brody said he is happy to have Simpson who is a United States Ski and Snowboard Association member at Mt. Snow as is Zach Brody at Wachusett Mountain.
“They are two established athletes within the sport of alpine ski racing and to have them in this program means we can field a nice, viable team led by two high-caliber athletes. We’re lucking out,” Kevin Brody said.
The only detractor for Simpson last season.
She raced alone.
“I want to see more girls get involved this year,” Simpson said. “It was just a case where girls are saying, ‘I’m just not a good skier. I don’t think I can do that.’ As long as you have a little skill, even if you have never raced before, you can join this team. Everybody gets better.”
Simpson will have teammates this season.
Jillian Marcotte and Ksenija Martinovic have signed on to the team this season as has eighth grader Emma Brody who can compete since the sport is not CIAC sanctioned.
In addition to Zach Brody, Davis Simpson and Anthony Listro are back on the boys team. Listro was injured almost all of last season.
Neil Camara is a newcomer to the squad this season.
“We have the same outlook as last year. We do have challenges with the pandemic and working around those regulations,” Kevin Brody said.
Ski slopes do have capacity restrictions, due to the virus, thus the team will have practice sessions on Mondays and races on Thursdays. There will be three 1-hour sessions from 4-7 p.m.  on Thursdays for CSIL small division programs and when the Centaurs session is over, they must vacate the mountain. There will be no make-up dates.
If all goes well, the Centaurs will be on the powder for 13 days this winter which is down only a couple of days from a year ago.
The lodge is also closed meaning the Centaurs bus will be their locker room.
“We’re hoping for a fairly normal season It’s an outdoor sport. Fresh air is a good thing,” Kevin Brody said.
“I definitely want to qualify for the postseason races as well as bringing the team even further,” Zach Brody said. “We have a lot of kids from last year and they can only get better. We have a lot of progression from last year as well which I like to see because I’m working on my coaching (skills).”
Zach Brody said he plans to be a ski instructor and coach in his post high school life.
One change for the Centaurs this year. New racing uniforms.
“We’re official. Last year, when we were becoming more successful, the school wanted us to become a bit more branded. We ended up getting jackets last year and this year, we have new giant slalom or speed suits which are very sharp and cool looking for the races this year. We’re going to look good on the mountain,” Kevin Brody said.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy

Alpine Ski Team
The Woodstock Academy 2021 alpine ski team after their first practice of the season last week.

Woodstock Academy senior Zach Brody models the new speed suits that the Woodstock Academy alpine ski team will be competing in.

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