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Durango High School’s Toby Scarpella named to all-state ski team

Freshman won giant slalom state title in February

Durango High School’s Toby Scarpella added a few more accolades to an already-impressive first season for the DHS ski team on Monday.

Scarpella was the only Demon named to the Colorado High School Activities Association all-state ski team in both giant slalom and slalom for the 2019-2020 season. He dominated the boys giant slalom state championship race at Beaver Creek in February, as he won by more than two seconds.

For Scarpella, the award meant a lot after a strong first season for the Demons.

“I was pretty excited when I found out,” Scarpella said. “I think it’s pretty cool for the school and my teammates. I’m happy with what I accomplished this season. Heading into the season, my goal was to have fun and compete for a state championship.”

Scarpella became the first state champion for DHS since the alpine ski program started again for the 2017-18 season. The state championship win completed a strong transition into high school ski racing after he had raced at the junior level in Vail for the last three years. He said being back with friends and teammates but still being able to race competitively played a big role in motivating him.

“Heading into this year, I knew I had an outside shot at winning and honestly went into it expecting it to be way less competitive,” Scarpella said. “But at the first race, I realized there were a bunch of fellow ex-ski racers like me from junior racing, so it turned into a really fun season. With high school racing, it was way less stressful than junior racing because in Vail, I was training five to six times a week for the entire year. Here, it was way more relaxed and I got to have fun and be competitive, as well.”

Scarpella, son of Alison and Brian Scarpella, is also a Durango DEVO mountain bike athlete, and is hopeful to race soon.

For Durango head coach Leah LeSage, she was impressed with how he dealt with adversity and how his leadership qualities still managed to shine through.

“I am very proud of Toby,” LeSage said. “He has had quite a bit of adversity this season. Starting high school, moving back to Durango and continuing to excel in skiing and mountain biking. At state he really showed up to compete and shattered the field. I also want to say that I think our older team members really helped the younger athletes to adapt and learn how to negotiate the high school skiing world. I am grateful for his strong leadership skills. ... I was also proud of our other racers. We had eight skiers named to the academic all-state first team.”

Battle Mountain had the most all-state appearances in boys giant slalom with three. Vail Mountain had two, while Summit and Aspen each had one make the team. Aspen led the way in slalom with three, Battle Mountain had two and Nederland and Middle Park also had athletes on the list. Matthew Cairns of Lake County was named the Skimeister, which is awarded to the top skier in both disciplines.

On the girls all-state list, Durango did not have any athletes named. Evergreen led the way in giant slalom with two athletes, while Aspen, Battle Mountain, Middle Park, Lake County and Summit High Schools all had athletes on the list.

In slalom, Steamboat Springs and Evergreen each had two, and athletes from Aspen, Middle Park and Summit also made the list. Kiana Brausch of Battle Mountain was named the girls Skimeister.

For Scarpella, even after a strong first year of high school racing, he knows the competition will continue to improve, but he said he is determined to keep getting better.

“Moving forward, I just want to keep showing up for my school and my team, keep training,” Scarpella said.

“In the next few years, I know the competition will continue to get better, so I am going to aim for what I did this season and try to be as successful moving forward.”

bploen@ durangoherald.com