The Far West Ski Association honored five Tahoe athletes for their alpine ski racing performance and potential, including Incline Village racers Lila Lapanja and Hannah Johnson.
The Far West Ski Association awarded grants of $500 to $1,000 to be used to cover training and competition fees during the 2011-2012 ski racing season.
Each of the student-athletes earned a grade point average (GPA) of 3.95, with three achieving a 4.0.
The son of Ron and Deedee Driller of Tahoe City, Garret Driller attends North Tahoe High School. A member of the Squaw Valley Ski Team, he is ranked 10th in super G, fifth in giant slalom and fifth in slalom in his age group. He maintains a 3.88 GPA. According to his coach, Lee Schmidt, Driller is an extremely gifted athlete and participates and excels in soccer, water skiing, lacrosse, mountain/road biking and alpine ski racing.
The daughter of Mark and Suzanne Johnson of Incline Village, Hannah Johnson attends Incline High School and holds a 4.0 GPA. Her coach at Incline, Hanzi Deschermeier, praised her desire and ability to ski fast, and her incomparable sportsmanship. She finished the 2011 season 11th in downhill, eighth in super G and 21st and 22nd in giant slalom and slalom, respectively. Johnson takes her competitive spirit and dedication to the soccer field where, as a freshman in 2010, she was the youngest player on Incline High's varsity soccer team.
The daughter of Vojko and Margie Lapanja of Incline Village, Lila Lapanja is the first FWSA scholarship recipient to be selected to the U.S. Ski Team's Development Team. A native of Incline, she attends the Forest Charter School in Truckee, where she maintains a 4.0 GPA. Lapanja is one of the top all-around junior alpine racers with top-10 standings in all four disciplines: eighth in downhill, sixth in super G, eighth in giant slalom and third in slalom. Her father, and former coach, praised her positive attitude, focused energy and dedication that is an inspiration to other competitors. In addition to being named to the USST Development Team, Lapanja was named the 2010-2011 Western Region Overall Slalom Champion and Western Region Kyle Warren Junior Slalom Champion. She also received the 2010-2011 Far West Jenny Glass Award for Outstanding Performance from a female junior racer.
The daughter of Belinda Denmark of Truckee, Morganne Murphy is a senior at Forest Charter School and a member of the Squaw Valley Ski Team. She finished the 2011 season ranked third in downhill, 14th in super G and seventh in slalom. Murphy won the combined championship at the 2011 J-2 Nationals and placed 20th in super G at the U.S. Nationals. She is currently the No. 1-ranked U.S. woman in ski cross and has earned a World Cup start for the 2011-2012 season.
The son of Greg and Laura Murtha of Truckee, Dylan Murtha is a senior at the Sugar Bowl Academy, where he is a 3.9 student. He finished the 2011 season standing in 15th place in giant slalom and 23rd in slalom. Murtha's coach, Guenther Birgmann, credited him with being “an incredible competitor with goals, and the work ethic to achieve them.”