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Lakeville North sophomore surprises herself with Alpine skiing title

By Jim Paulsen, Star Tribune, 02/13/19, 4:43PM CST


Against strong and familiar competition, Peyton Servais pegged herself as taking fourth at best. Mounds View senior Kaarl Damberg took the boys’ championship.

Peyton Servais of Lakeville North made her way down the Innsbruck course Wednesday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik en route to the girls' individual Alpine title. Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com

Don’t get Peyton Servais wrong. The Lakeville North sophomore was thrilled to win the individual championship Wednesday at the Alpine skiing state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

In fact, in terms of things she’s accomplished on a slalom ski course, she had a hard time pinpointing anything she’s been more proud of.

“It’s definitely top three,” she said. “Maybe No. 1. I don’t know.”

Servais was second after the first run of the meet, trailing leader and defending champion Becca Divine of Eden Prairie by one-hundredth of a second. She slipped past Divine on the second run, winning with a combined time of 1:11.18. Divine finished second with a time of 1:11.23.

The reason for Servais’s trepidation was how unexpected it was. Divine, as she had all season, defeated her in the Section 6 finals. Two other top racers — Lakeville South’s Lauren Geary, who finished third, and Hermantown’s Ashley Winberg, who was fourth — also had regularly finished ahead of her.

Mounds View's Kaarl Damberg skied Wednesday en route to the boys' individual title. Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune


What Mounds View senior Kaarl Damberg did Wednesday afternoon probably should have happened a year ago.

Damberg went out blazing in his first run of the day, then turned in a strong technical race in the second to win the boys’ individual championship in a time of 1:11.72, finishing .38 of a second ahead of runner-up Luke Conway of Minneapolis Washburn.

The victory eased the hurt of 2018, when Damberg also led after the first run but fell on the second and ended up 19th.

“Last year was going good and then it wasn’t going good,” Damberg said. “Today, I was just, like, ‘Go. Don’t think about last year. Just think about today and ski.’ ”

So focused Damberg was on simply skiing and not thinking too much that he had no idea he was in the lead after the first run. Well, not officially.

“People told me I was in the lead, but I was like ‘I don’t know. They might have missed something,’ ” he said. “I didn’t look, so I kind of knew but I kind of didn’t. So I decided I’m going to go with ‘I don’t know.’ ”

It was all part of his strategy. “I never want to know,” he said.

Damberg said his victory made years of hard work pay off and the disappointment of last year melt away.

“I started skiing at 2 years old. Working out every day in the summer and in the off-season, practices three or four days a week, races on Saturday and Sunday,” he said looking back. “Everything outside of school has been skiing for the last 16 years. It’s awesome. Absolutely at the top.”

Edina won the team title, behind brothers Adam Berghult, a freshman who finished third overall and Carl Berghult, a senior who finished 13th, with 150 points. Minneapolis Washburn was second with 157.

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