NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

December 28, 2013

A life on the slopes

(Continued)

“I am kind of like the senior member,” said Bechtel. “So if there was something that went horribly wrong, I would be third in command, I guess, because we have a coach and then an intern. It’s not a specific job; it’s just that I have more experience.”

When he is not training, he’s skiing. Bechtel has passed an 80-hour wilderness medicine course as well as an avalanche survival course and will be receiving even more preparation in the future but has never found himself in a life-threatening situation as of yet.

“From a skill-set standpoint, he is definitely one of my top athletes,” ALPS program director and coach, Ian Hubbard said of Bechtel. “He is very much in a leadership role. The ability levels are all over the map when we get kids in the program, I often times rely upon him to teach the kids a little bit.”

A backcountry trip to Maine’s highest mountain, Mount Katahdin this coming March will give Bechtel and his teammates a chance put all their training to good use.

“The first day we hike in about 15 miles to get to the huts,” said Bechtel. “Then we stay in the hut for the first night and then hike even further in to the base of the mountain and we stay in a lean-to. We use skins (on the bottom of the skis) so when you push forward, it’s glides and when you try to pull back, it catches so that you can climb on snow that way. Then we take them off and ski down. Basically, we climb up the mountain and go ski different roads all day.”

Bechtel has broken four bones in his lifetime but strangely enough, none of them while skiing.

“He is a great young man,” Hubbard said of Bechtel. “He’s an excellent student, a very talented musician; he has a great attitude and is very supportive of the other kids in the program. He represents what, as the end result, what this program should be. It is nice to be able to show that to the new kids entering the program, he really embodies what I want the kids to take away from it. He has really been a standout for me and that’s the best way I can describe him.”

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