Michael Murray has a theory as to why Minnesota, which is to mountains as Florida is to snowblowers, churns out so many high quality slalom skiers.
"It's the short hills," said the Bloomington Jefferson junior, who is one of the state's top Alpine ski racers. "We can get in more runs.
"And the hills are so short, you can put lights on them," he said. "We can train longer because we can train at night."
Calling from an FIS Ski race in Duluth while perched at the top of one of Spirit Mountain's slalom runs, Murray spoke with staff writer Jim Paulsen.
Q So, are the ski conditions in Duluth any better than here in the Twin Cities?
A No, not really. It's warm, so some of the runs are pretty soft, but it's not too bad.
Q Have you ever experienced a winter like this?
A I've been skiing for a long time. I think this is my 12th or 13th year. I don't ever remember a year this warm.
Q When the weather is like it has been all season, what do you have to do to be successful?
A I think you have to think more tactically. You need to go smart. You can't go all out when the snow is soft.
A When the snow is soft, you get more ruts and it gets bumpier.
Q So what do you need to do to thrive in these conditions?
A A skier needs to be really soft on his edges and have light feet. You can't put too much pressure on your skis because they will dig in and it will slow you down.
Q You've had a pretty successful high school season so far, winning four out of five meets. What do you like about high school skiing?
A It's a good time to get out and get in some practice and get the chance to ski with your friends from school. And you get to ski against kids from other schools to see how you stack up.
Q What is your strong point?
A My balance on the snow. It's something I've always had. It comes pretty natural to me.
Q What do you need to work on to improve?
A Probably applying more pressure and getting more power out of my skis.
Q What is your favorite place to ski in Minnesota?
A Probably where I am now, Spirit Mountain. There is more length to the hills. And when you race here, it attracts a lot of great skiers.
Q What is the best place you've ever skied?
A I would have to say Big Sky, Montana. It had a lot of runs, the racing was good. And it was a great family place.
Q Speaking of family, your older sister Brenna won the girls' state meet last year. Is that motivation for you?
A Definitely. There's a little bit of a sibling rivalry there. It would be fun to be able to match her.
Q So obviously your goal is to win the state championship this year.
A Well, I would like to make it to the state championship and maybe have a chance to win. There will be a lot of good racers there. It will be very competitive. I'm looking forward to it.