Menlo School freshman Gabriela Kogler enjoys running around. Considering her athletic talents, at least, it’s obvious she likes to roam over large expanses of land, whether it be a soccer field, a cross country course or flinging herself down, on skis, a snow-covered mountain.
Kogler has been skiing competitively for about 10 years, rising through the ranks among the best in the state and the region.
Saturday, she’ll be competing with the best 15-16 year olds in the nation at the US Ski and Snowboard U16 National Championships presented by Nisi, at the Mission Ridge Ski Area on the east side of the Cascades in Washington.
She’ll be joined by 15-year-old Teagan Turner, a Portola Valley resident who attends the Sugar Bowl Academy in Norden, Placer County, a place for serious skiers who are committed to attending college while focusing on training.
Turner put on a pair of skis for the first time as a 2-year-old and, figuratively, has yet to take them off. He began competing in the Tahoe League when he was six.
Both athletes qualified for the national competition at last weekend’s U16 Western Region Championships at the Alyeska Resort in Alaska.
Turner, coached by Scout Houser, opened with a ninth-place finish in the men’s Giant Slalom, navigating a 286-meter vertical drop in 1:48.33, just over four seconds behind the winning time of 1:44.05. He finished of 73 other competitors.
Less than 24 hours later, Turner placed seventh on the men’s Slalom on a course only slightly less steeper. He completed the 154-meter drop in 1:33.62, better than 77 other skiers.
Kogler, coached by Gladys Weidt, opened competition in the women’s Slalom, the mildest of the three races. She finished 19th out of 88, finishing in 1:38.89. Her second run was slower, causing a drop in the standings.
The next day she was onto the women’s Giant Slalom, the steeper race. She must have enjoyed the challenge as she was sixth, despite a disappointing 12th place finish in her first run. Kogler came back to place fourth in her second run, the biggest improvement among the top 10 finishers.
After a day off, Kogler finished eighth in the women’s Super-G, a 1,714-meter run that dropped 413 feet.
An added feature of the national championships, the host city of Wenatchee is known as the “Apple Capital of the World.” Probably bad news for doctors.
In addition to skiing, Kogler was the fourth runner on Menlo’s cross country team that finished second at the Central Coast Section finals in girls Division IV last fall and qualified for the state meet. On a team that features five sophomores and two freshmen, she finished 23rd overall.
During the winter season, Kogler helped the Knights’ girls soccer team earn a berth in the CCS playoffs as a forward-midfielder. She also runs track and field.
Kogler also plays for the Palo Alto Soccer Club and was with the Menlo Sparks Gymnastics Team until a couple of years ago, which has helped with her balance.
Learning how to balance her athletics, especially how to avoid the flags and/or poles while speeding downhill, and academics must be a full time job.