BOYNE FALLS — For Ainsley Kirk, it all started as a 5 year-old when snow balls provided some entertainment.
At least for her anyway.
After finishing lessons up at Marquette Mountain when she was 5, Kirk said she needed to pass the time as other skiers were learning basics that she already had started to know like the back of her hand.
“I got bored and started throwing snow balls at the other kids,” Kirk said. “So (teachers) were like ‘You should try ski racing.’”
Kirk is already turning out to be quite a good one at that.
The Marquette sophomore was the individual standout at the Division 1 state finals at Boyne Mountain on Monday.
In the morning, Kirk finished third in the giant slalom with an overall time of 1 minute, 9.53 seconds before coming out in the afternoon and winning the slalom in a time of 1:07.81.
Just finishing the course was a chore for a lot of skiers on what was an unusually mild day at Boyne, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s.
Having slushy and soft snow is not preferred, and eight female skiers failing to finish their runs in the first run of the slalom.
But that didn’t deter Kirk.
“In my second run, I had to make some line adjustments because of how soft it was,” Kirk said.
Both the Marquette boys and girls dominated the slalom events and repeated as state champions.
It capped off a busy weekend for Kirk, who didn’t arrive at Boyne Mountain until Sunday night because she was back in Marquette successfully qualifying for a USSA junior event next weekend in Colorado.
Girls from Oakland County fared well in the giant slalom, with four of the top-five finishers and six in the top eight.
Birmingham Marian junior Olivia Weymouth captured the state title with a time of 1:08.11, Birmingham United’s Kate Bridges was second at 1:08.40, Rochester Adams’ Kaylee Richardson took fourth at 1:09.45, Lake Orion’s Grace Stetsko was fifth at 1:09.53, Milford’s Morgan Watts was sixth at 1:09.67 and Bloomfield Hills’ Grace Dillon was eighth with a time of 1:10.45.
“With GS, I find it more fun I guess,” said Weymouth, who also runs the slalom but didn’t finish her first slalom race. “I put in a lot of work and dedication and it was cool to see it show through with the GS title.”
In the boys slalom, Marquette swept the top three places.
Aaron Grzelak won with time of 57.96, Andrew Thomas was in second at 58.97 and Hayden Kauppilla was third at 1:00.57.
Lakeland’s James Wenzloff was fourth (1:00.64) and Clarkston’s Max Wiedemann was fifth (1:01.56).
In the giant slalom, Rockford’s Nick Rupert won the state title with a time of 1:04.67. Thomas was second at 1:05.17, Wenzloff took third with a time of 1:06.42, Grezlak was fourth at 1:06.89 and Kaupilla finished fifth with a time of 1:07.22.
The Marquette boys won its sixth straight state championship with 56 points, 24.5 points ahead of Traverse City Central, which was the runner-up for the fifth straight year.
For Thomas of Marquette’s boys team, a senior, it marked state titles for all four years of his high school tenure.
“It was surreal when we won the first one,” Thomas said. “Before you know it, I’m already a senior. I just got really lucky to be on teams that had awesome skiers every year.”
Rochester Adams/Stoney Creek’s combined team was third with 124.5 points, Lakeland was fourth with 153 points and Brighton took fifth with 158.5 points.
In the girls event, Marquette won its third straight state title with 48 points, well-ahead of the 76 points produced by second-place Traverse City West. Traverse City Central was third at 109, Milford was fourth at 160 and Clarkston finished fifth with a final total of 172.
“Back at regionals, the girls got second at regionals and the girls had a rough day in the GS,” Marquette coach Dan Menze said. “We came into the GS and we skied much better and towards where we thought we should ski. We knew coming into the slalom that we were lucky to have talented skiers in that event.”