It was partially a love of skiing that drove Kenzie Tyler to join the Mt. Abram High School alpine skiing team as a junior. Her friends helped convince her, and she felt the need to do something.

“I wasn’t really into basketball anymore, and I enjoyed skiing,” Tyler said. “Some of the girls on the team convinced me to do it. I had nothing better to do, I guess.”

Tyler was a quick learner. As a senior this season, in just her second year of ski racing, she had strong performances in both the giant slalom and slalom at the Mountain Valley Conference championships. That makes her the choice as the Morning Sentinel Alpine Skier of the Year.

“She’s only raced for two years, so she came very coachable,” Mt. Abram coach Leah Danala said. “Anything we wanted her to do, she did it, and she worked very hard at it.”

Tyler says she began skiing somewhere around first grade through a local ski and skate program, but she wasn’t serious about it until high school. Once she gave up basketball and joined the team, her attitude made her someone people followed.

“She’s very positive — not a whiner, not a complainer,” Danala said. “It’s nice to have a senior like that, because the younger guys are like, ‘Well, the senior’s not complaining. Maybe I shouldn’t, either.’

“We have a very small school,” Danala added. “So if you want to stay active in the winter, your options are pretty limited. You can either play basketball, or ski.”

Like most people who have a reputation for being positive, Tyler seems to see it as something natural, rather than her knowing some sort of secret.

“It’s not really a competition thing for me, I guess,” Tyler said. “It’s more like self-improvement.”

After helping Mt. Abram win the MVC team title, Tyler finished 16th in the giant slalom at the Class B state championships.

“I definitely prefer GS more,” Tyler said. “It’s just because I didn’t get into slalom until late in the season, so I didn’t have enough technical skills to enjoy it, I guess.”

The natural question is how good Tyler would have been had she decided to race a little earlier. Tyler said she now wishes she had, but doesn’t dwell on it.

“It would have been fun to see if she had started a lot earlier,” Danala said. “If she had come to us as a freshman or a middle-schooler, she really could have gone far.”

Just like that, Tyler’s competitive ski racing career is likely over. With her late start, she’d be up against it as far as trying to make a college team.

“I’m OK with it,” Tyler said. “I’d really like to continue, but I’ll be OK if I can’t.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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