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Eden Prairie’s Jack Post won the boys’ Alpine ski title at last year’s state meet. That helped his confidence but also raised his appreciation for team skiing. Photo: JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com

A slalom skier since the age of 2, Jack Post always has enjoyed high school skiing. As his competitive career winds down, however, he has found that he appreciates it more that ever.

The Eden Prairie senior has made skiing the centerpiece of his athletic life. He learned to attack hills while training with the renowned Buck Hill Ski Team. He lived the life of a typical Minnesota skier, traveling each winter weekend to various ski areas around the Midwest, competing in regional races under the United States Ski Association (USSA) and Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) banners with the goal of earning enough points to ski in prestigious Junior Olympic national meets.

The high school season, while fun, wasn't the same. Put in basketball terms, high school meets were roughly the equivalent of a preseason scrimmage.

"My priority has always been USSA and FIS races," Post said. "For the top skiers, high school races aren't that hard. The courses aren't set up with much difficulty, so you can have fun and not worry."

Then came the 2012 state meet. Boys' champion Bjorn Halvorson edged out Post for the individual championship. But a Minnesota State High School League rules violation forced Halvorson, skiing for Minnehaha Academy, to relinquish the title, giving Post the championship.

"Winning the state meet really helped me grow as a person," Post said. "I got so much more recognition, it really improved my self-confidence."

It also opened his eyes to the value of high school season. Conditioned to the individual-oriented mindset of the USSA and FIS races, Post said the victory came with a personal realization: Skiing, like life, can be just as satisfying when goals are reached with a team.

He said he has had more fun this year than in the past.

"In the years before I was on the high school team, I was always on my own, competing in my own little world," he said. "Now, I love the team aspect of high school skiing. When you can share your successes with other people, it just makes it that much more special."

It's not that Post doesn't care about winning individual titles. As the champion of Section 6, he stated that his primary goal is to win another title, validating his championship last year.

"I want to prove that I can do it back-to-back," Post said.

Among Post's main challengers is Halvorson, who transferred from Minnehaha Academy and is now a teammate at Eden Prairie. Post acknowledged that he was cautious around Halvorson when the season started but has come to regard him as a friend and valuable asset in helping the Eagles' team goals.

"It's pretty ironic that he would be a teammate of mine," Post said, "but we've put our differences behind us.

"We're not best friends, but we're better friends than we were."

Eagles coach Nathan Springer said the relationship between Post and Halvorson has gone much smoother than he expected.

"They really respect each other, and they have a very good working relationship," Springer said. "From Day 1, they've been talking about the courses and what they need to do. I've never seen any animosity from them."

Post has another reason for wanting to win a second title (as if a reason to want a state title is needed): He has decided to stop pursuing individual skiing honors.

"I'm waiting to hear from St. Olaf about skiing there," he said. "But college is all about team skiing. So theoretically, yes, this could one of my last individual races. It will be quite a challenge, but it would mean a lot to defend the title."

State ski meets

At Giants Ridge, Biwabik

Alpine • Wednesday

BOYS

• Teams: West-metro teams Blake, Eden Prairie, Edina and Orono are among the eight schools competing for the title.

• Schedule: First run, 10 a.m.; second run, 1 p.m.

GIRLS

• Teams: Blake, Bloomington Jefferson, Minneapolis Southwest and Minnetonka will vie for the title with four other teams.

• Schedule: First run, 10 a.m.; second run, 1 p.m.

NORDIC • THURSDAY
BOYS

• Teams: Eden Prairie and Hopkins are competing in an eight-school field.

• Schedule: 5K freestyle, 11 a.m.; 5K classical, 2:30 p.m.

GIRLS

• Teams: Hopkins and Wayzata will represent west-metro schools among the eight teams.

• Schedule: 5K freestyle, 10 a.m.; 5K classical, 1:30 p.m.

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