Hungry for success, the Sierra Nevada College alpine ski team is on the hunt for another national title. In 2011, the team succeeded in bringing home the U.S. Collegiate title in giant slalom for both men and women and will attempt to repeat this feat March 4-11 in Sunday River, Maine.
“We have two weeks to prepare for nationals after regionals, and if all goes as planned I feel confident that we will be successful,” said Head Ski Coach Branko Zagar. “We just must be careful before nationals because little things can screw up everything.”
A few team members have already experienced season-ending injuries and the team cannot afford any more.
The team competed from Feb. 18-20 at Mammoth Mountain for the regional competition, which concluded in wins for the men and women.
“Our goal was to qualify at regionals so we can go to nationals, and we did just that,” Zagar said.
In the GS races, Mateas Ferk took the win for the women and Marcus Plyhr finished first for the men.
The team also competed in the GS and slalom International Ski Federation (FIS) races at Squaw Valley on Feb. 24-27. This resulted in wins by Clement Tomamicheal for Friday and Saturday’s men’s GS races, while Caroline Klaeson took first in Friday’s race for the women. In the Sunday and Monday competition, Mateas Ferk finished first for the women in both races and Luca Ricou claimed first in Monday’s race. The men’s team failed to finish in the top five in Sunday’s GS.
“Everything went according to plan this weekend, except for a hiccup in Sunday’s men’s race,” Zagar said. “All in all, we did well.”
Six women and five men will be traveling east for the national title.
The same group that was awarded the qualifying spot in Mammoth will be attending nationals: Marcus Plyhr, Jaka Jazbec, Clement Tomamicheal, Luca Ricou and Ricko Ericksson for the men, and Melissa Daniels, Matea Ferk, Tea Palic, Hedvig Spangs, Emilie Lamoureux and Caroline Klaeson for the women.
Though the team has dominated competitions for most of the season, Zagar made it clear that nationals will be no “walk in the park.”
“I feel that the team has worked hard this season and they are showing that they really want to bring home another national title,” said Zagar. “The quality of competition in Sunday River is really good, so we need to be consistent, which isn’t easy.”
The Freestyle Ski Team will also be attending nationals in its second competitive season as a team. In its first season, Ezra Stemple took the national championship in halfpipe.
Though the team has struggled this season, with competitions at Northstar and Sugar Bowl canceled, the group has kept an optimistic outlook on its journey to nationals.
The team qualified for nationals with Shawn Warren finishing first in skiercross at the regional championship Feb. 18-20 in Mammoth.
“Regionals in Mammoth was really fun considering it was the first time this season the whole team got to ski together,” said sophomore Katie Souza. “For nationals, Rebecca Roberts, Kim Smith, Kyle Murphy, Shawn Warren, Bryant Knowles, Ben Currier and myself will be attending.”
Though the team has struggled to compete and train as a whole this season because of non USCSA-related conflicts, Souza’s positive outlook keeps hopes alive for another national championship.
“We definitely have room to improve, but I feel confident that we will do well at nationals,” said Souza.