Becomes program’s first state ski champion
by Bob San
SUN PRESS Newspapers
Entering her fourth and final state high school Nordic ski meet last Thursday at Giant’s Ridge, Osseo High’s Sarah Bezdicek just wanted to ski the best she could and have fun. You could say the Osseo senior met those goals and then more. Bezdicek gave a dominating performance and blasted her way to the state championship. She became the first ever Osseo Nordic ski state champion.
“I felt rested and strong going into the State meet,” said Bezdicek. “I trained hard during the season and it was time to let it pay off. I was confident in my preparation but a little nervous with the strong competition around me.”
Bezdicek and Osseo head coach Brad Rosch decided that she needed to ski relaxed during the first kilometer of the races and start pushing hard after that.
“We both kept positive mindsets during the day even though it was cold and starts were delayed,” Bezdicek said.
Bezdicek not only had to battle the top skiers in the state, but also nasty natural elements. The start was delayed by two hours because of the bitter cold and the races were run right at the legal temperature at around -4 degrees.
“I had to make sure my face was covered and I wore enough layers,” she said. “The air was harder to breathe but I was warm from the start.”
While other skiers fretted about the miserable conditions, Rosch deep down felt they played to Bezdicek’s advantage.
“The conditions were very tough and that’s perfect for Sarah because I don’t think there is a skier in the state that is any tougher, physically or mentally,” Rosch said.
Bezdicek, who was ranked seventh in the state in the final poll, proved she could handle the cold better and was the best skier in the state as she gave stellar performances in both races.
“The first race, skate, was an interval start. Two skiers started every 15 seconds,” Bezdicek explained. “I started out amongst the other section winners but did not know where everyone was on the course because of the time gaps. I stuck behind Margie Freed of Eastview the first kilometer but felt really good so I surged to pass her and kept up the momentum through the rest of the race.”
“The course at Giant’s Ridge is a world-class course with numerous steep hills to climb along with very technical fast downhill. Sarah paced it perfectly,” Rosch said. “Sarah skied the skate course perfect. She was controlled early in the race and really hammered the second.”
Bezdicek was in first after the morning race and had a commanding 28-second lead on the second skier. In the afternoon, roles were reversed.
“Instead of hunting down the others girls, they were hunting me down,” Bezdicek said. “In the classic pursuit I led from the start but knew the others were hot on my heels. I skied as relaxed and powerfully as I could and pushed it in all the way to the finish.”
As she promised herself, Bezdicek left everything she had on the course and did not hold back.
“I could barely feel my legs after the skate race,” she said. “I pushed myself as hard as I could in the morning and did the same in the classic pursuit. It was my last high school race and I wanted to make the most of it and not have any regrets.”
Spurred on by her loyal cheering section, Bezdicek left the other skiers far behind and won in a two-race time of 34 minutes, 16.5 seconds.
“She had a great Classic race, posting the second fastest time of all racers (16:53.5), and won the Pursuit by an impressive 45 seconds,” Rosch said. “With a lead, there is a tendency to hold back. Not Sarah. She went out and skied her race, not worrying about the other racers. Even with the big lead coming into the finish she was pushing hard to the finish.”
When Bezdicek finished her race there was no other skier within sight.
“Crossing the finish line was amazing and so exciting,” Bezdicek said. “It was hard to believe I had done it. My teammates were there and Rosch gave me a huge hug. They were so happy for me and I was proud that I could finish like that for them. They all have been a part of my high school ski career and helped me get to this point. I couldn’t have done it without them. The spectators were amazing. My family, friends, teammates and coaches were all over the course and cheering so loudly. They helped me ski faster.”
“I’m thrilled with Sarah winning State,” Rosch said. “This is her fourth time making the state meet and she was all-state the last two years finishing 19th both years.”
The state championship is the culmination of years of hard work and a perfect end for Bezdicek’s high school career.
“It was such an amazing experience,” she said. “I hope this win will inspire others to conquer the course and achieve their goals and pave the path for future Oriole skiers.”
Contact Bob San at [email protected]