State News

State expands high school sports practices, allows ski competitions

By Andy Kirkaldy

Gov. Phil Scott eased some restrictions on school and recreational sports practices, effective Jan. 18. Among the changes, outdoor ski teams will be allowed to compete this winter, Scott said in his Jan. 15 news conference.

Nordic skiers from Otter Valley union high schools could begin to hit the trails soon.

OVUHS skiers have a half-dozen meets on a modified schedule, beginning Jan. 27, with the first three meets set to be hosted by Woodstock, Mount Anthony and Brattleboro. Per state officials, the relaxed guidelines will allow only 25 skiers to compete at a time during meets.

OVUHS Nordic will not host meets. The Mountain Top Inn in Chittenden, normally the venue for the Otters’ home meets, has said it will not host races, according to Otter Valley Athletic Director Steve Keith.

Alpine ski teams across the state are also gearing up for races beginning this week.

As for the rest of the sports that could see competition — indoor track and wrestling had already been ruled out — Gov. Scott said practices could move into what he and other officials are referring as “Phase II” of winter sports.

Previously, practices could only consist of contactless skill and conditioning drills. Now, Gov. Scott said, teams can include drills with limited contact and conduct intra-squad scrimmages. Masks will still be required, and no scrimmages against other schools will be allowed.

Scott said state officials are still looking at allowing games and competitions at some point this winter, with the timing depending on Covid-19 statistics.

“We know how important these activities are for our kids’ wellbeing, both for their physical and mental health,” Scott said. “It is my hope that we’ll soon be able to allow for competitions. But as with every decision we make, it will be based on our data and the advice of our experts.”

Officials decided to allow schools to take this next step, Scott said, because there has been no evidence of “spread of the virus tied to these activities,” meaning during school practices, up to this point.

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