Nordic Skier Soars Past the Competition

Up-and-coming nordic skier, Lilah Gilyard, helps pave the way for the Coon Rapids High School Ski Team’s success.


Lilah Gilyard classic skies at the section meet during the second race of the day on February 6, 2019.

Olivia Ellenbecker, IJ Contributor #

After being a member of the Coon Rapids Nordic Ski Team for only three years, freshman, Lilah Gilyard, became one of the more competitive skiers in a conference comprised of twelve different schools. In the past two years, she achieved the title of All Conference, two years in a row, meaning that she placed in the top 36 of a race containing about 120 varsity skier participants. Her incredible ski career began three years ago when her older brother, who raced for the team at the time, encouraged her to try something new and join the team. Gilyard, hesitant at first, ended up deciding to join and enjoyed it right from the start.

Lilah Gilyard, Anna Eich, and Sarah Eichstadt compete for an All Conference spot during the conference meet on February 1, 2019.

Although she participated in other sports as a child such as gymnastics and lacrosse, learning to nordic ski was a whole different ball game. At first, Gilyard struggled to learn exactly how to glide correctly on her skis; however, only a small amount of time later, Gilyard actually began to lead the other rookie skiers during drills at practice. Soon enough, she graduated from the rookie group and joined the varsity skiers during practices. Her dedication paid off tremendously. Gilyard’s varsity teammate, Sarah Eichstadt shared, “Lilah is probably the most committed skier I have ever met. She always works hard at practices and never gives up.” Because of Gilyard’s constant dedication to make her ski technique and endurance better during the past three years, she quickly became faster than many of her other competitors and teammates.  

Over the years, Gilyard found inspiration in her coaches and friends on the ski team. While doing tough speed intervals at practices or racing on difficult courses, Gilyard thought about the motivational words and speeches her coach, Dennis Green, shared with the team before a tiresome workout. Gilyard mentioned, “My coach has pushed me to go my hardest and do my best at all times. Without his support and motivating talks before races, skiing would be a much harder sport for me.” Along with that, Gilyard also attributed her

After placing in the top 36 at the conference ski meet, Lilah Gilyard receives her All Conference award on February 1st, 2019.

coach’s motivating words to her many successes on the team. In her three years on the high school ski team, Gilyard received Most Improved, All Conference twice, and the team’s “Silver Sock” award, meaning that she worked hard and helped motivate other team members. Gilyard played a crucial role on the team as both an astounding athlete and friend to others in the past few years making it very easy to explain how she rose to one of the top spots on the team.

Overall, Gilyard’s achievements from the past three years promised a quite interesting future. In fact, her coach, Green, stated, “I think we can all expect to see her at the state ski meet in the next few years. I know that she will continue to work hard and keep improving throughout the rest of her time on the team. I’m super excited to see what her future holds and what she will achieve!”