At home on the slopes

Brush playing star role for Tyngsboro/Groton-Dunstable ski team

Chloe Brush competes for the Tyngsboro/Groton-Dunstable co-op alpine ski team during a recent race at Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford (Photo courtesy of Mike Oh)
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WESTFORD — When Chloe Brush was 3 years old, her parents would put her snow boots on and go out to the backyard to teach her how to ski.

Now, 14 years later, the Tyngsboro resident and senior captain on the Tyngsboro/Groton-Dunstable co-op alpine ski team is not only the Sun’s two-time Skier of the Year, she is also the reigning top skier out of the Mass Bay West League and still holds that same spot through three races this year. Moreover, at last year’s state meet, she finished second in the slalom and third in the giant slalom races.

“This is my first year coaching, so it’s been almost 30 years since I have seen competitive ski racing, and the first time I saw Chloe come down the hill, I was just amazed,” said Tyngsboro/Groton-Dunstable head coach Sean Murphy. “It’s absolutely amazing to watch her. It’s like you are watching it on TV.

“Here you have a high school girl who has perfect form, she is hitting out of the gates just right and cutting the edges. You quickly realize how good she is, and I know that I have nothing to do with any of it.”

The Brush family has an incredible passion for the sport of skiing. Chloe’s parents, Rick and Mary, have been ski instructors, and her father is still a ski coach at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton. Chloe’s older sister, Emile, now a senior at St. Anselm College, is also a former Sun Skier of the Year, who was a state champion in the slalom during her high school days.

“I’ve been skiing since I could walk,” said Brush. “I’ve been racing at Wachusett Mountain for about 10 years. It’s crazy, but it’s also in my blood. I just love it, absolutely love it and I don’t know anything different. I like how technical it can be. I like how it’s myself and it’s an accomplishment, and I can say, ‘I did that on that course and no one else did.’ “

Brush is in her third season as a member of the high school team after missing her entire freshman year due to an ACL injury she suffered while playing soccer. She came back from that injury and will earn three varsity letters in both sports. She is coming off an incredible season as a captain on the Tyngsboro girls soccer team — which includes recording 22 goals and 11 assists while being named the Mid-Wach D Most Valuable Player, a Central Mass. all-star and a Sun all-star.

While she also enjoys competing on the soccer field, skiing is Brush’s true passion, especially ski racing.

“We do giant slalom, which is big turns, and slalom is tight turns,” she said. “I like doing slalom better, which is the tight turns. You get in the starting gate, it opens and you go. You do the turns, and it’s the fastest that you can get down the hill and whomever has the lowest time wins.”

The Mass Bay West League has six meets during the winter season. In each one, each team has 12 racers, who have two runs each down the hill. The person with the best times collectively is awarded 100 points for the meet, with second place getting 99, and so on. At the end of the season, the league takes each skier’s top-four scores, and the top 13 advance to the state meet to be among about 150 competitors.

“I was very surprised with the third-place finish (in the giant slalom at last year’s state meet),” Brush said. “I like doing slalom better and my passion goes more into that, so getting the third place in GS was like, ‘Wow, that’s really great.’ I’m also proud of the second-place finish, too. In my mind, those two finishes were first places, and my biggest accomplishments.”

In order to become one of the state’s best, like any other sport, it’s all about work ethic and practicing to get better. In this sport, though, trying to master the turns and the speed while racing down a steep slope is no easy task.

“The turns are really mental,” Brush said. “Having a strong mental game when you are ski racing is so important, because it’s just you against the time. So if I go down the hill and I mess up, it’s all my fault. So at every turn you try to get the most speed that you can, but also not get disqualified, so you have to get down the same way as everybody else.

“You just need to find that little extra speed that you can. It’s hard to explain but the way you pressure the ski a certain way and the way you flex your ankles is a big part of it as well. It’s very technical. I try to work on the basic stuff and then put that into a course.”

A National Honor Society member, Brush said she has narrowed her college search down to St. Anselm and UMass Amherst. She wants to become an athletic director, following in the footsteps of Tyngsboro AD Ann Palumbo. Brush said she plans to continue to ski in college, but at a club level.

This year’s state meet will be held on March 4, and Brush was asked if she is putting a lot of pressure on herself to follow in her sister’s footsteps and become a state champion.

“No, not at all,” she said. “This season, I’m just trying to have fun. The past few seasons have been stressful. This year I said to myself that I don’t want to be stressed. I just want to do my best, do what I can, and whatever happens, happens. I just want to try my best. That’s all you can really do in ski racing. … I just want to create as many memories and enjoy the friendships as much as I can.”