Even Don King would have trouble hyping this weekend’s Wyoming Alpine Ski Championships at Snow King. Jackson’s boys have won seven straight state titles and have dominated the entire season. The Lady Broncs have been even more impressive, edging toward their 10th consecutive state title.
The team titles are almost a foregone conclusion, and individual races aren’t that tantalizing either. Jackson sophomore Teddy Morgan has won seven of the 10 regular season races this year and has yet to be beat when he stays on his feet.
Broncs senior McKayla Burke will compete in her first state championships as the heavy favorite to capture both the slalom and giant slalom titles. Burke has won eight of her 10 races this season. She finished second to defending state slalom champion and teammate Dylan Kling in one race, and she was disqualified in another in which Kling took the title due to a judge’s decision that prevented Burke from another win.
Kling is capable of beating Burke, and Bronc Dylan Nash, who also has two wins this season, is capable of beating Morgan. But neither Morgan nor Burke has plans to close out the season in second place.
“I’d be a little bit disappointed if I didn’t win both,” Morgan said, though he didn’t want to take anything away from the rest of his competitors. “I know I have the ability. That [weekend] of all [weekends], to not perform to the best of my ability would be quite frustrating.”
Burke plans to soak up the final competitive ski races of her high school life. She wants to win both races and certainly plans to. Yet after a high school career plagued by injury she isn’t in any need of further validation.
“It’s not the most important thing,” Burke said when asked if she had to win both titles to consider the weekend a success. “I want to just enjoy my last race at Snow King. But I would like to go out with two state titles. I think that’d be pretty fun.”
As an eighth-grader skiing for the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club, Burke tore her MCL and her meniscus in her left knee. She came back from rehab and almost immediately blew out her right knee as she suffered another torn MCL and meniscus to go along with a torn ACL.
A second lengthy rehab process put Burke back on skis as a sophomore with the Ski Club, but the speed skier said she was timid and weary of another injury. She didn’t enjoy the sport like she used to and decided to switch to tech skiing with the high school as a junior.
Burke’s junior year saw her compete in only two races as she spent a portion of the season heli-skiing in Canada. She placed third and fifth and garnered some much-needed confidence heading into her senior year. She didn’t miss the competitive nature of the club or the finances of club skiing. High school racing made her fall in love with the sport all over again.
“I just wanted to have fun and finish out my ski racing [career],” she said of her decision to leave the club and join the Broncs. “I’ve been doing it for probably 10 years now. I just wanted to put everything out there. ... I’ve had a lot of fun and done pretty well.”
Morgan and Burke are both in their first full seasons skiing for the Broncs. Morgan moved from Kingston, Massachusetts, last summer and decided to pick up ski racing again after a few winters off from the sport. The icy conditions of Snow King Mountain paired well with his East Coast background, and he’s taking the high school field by storm despite being an underclassman.
There aren’t many who can beat Morgan. Burke happens to be one of the few, although it doesn’t happen often, she said.
“There’s been a couple times in training, maybe like two or three when he’s had a little bit of an off run,” Burke said on times she’s bested Morgan.
The two have an agreement that if it ever happens again Morgan will owe Burke breakfast from Pearl Street Bagels.
“She’s confident,” Morgan said of Burke. “She holds it back a lot of the time, but she’s a really smooth skier and sometimes gets really close to me.”
Only Nash and Kling are expected to get close to Burke and Morgan this weekend. Burke said she’d be happy to see Kling, someone she calls one of her closest friends, get the best of her. But only if it happens in one race, not two.