Bennett, Ganong lead local selections for USA alpine team
U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced its 2020-21 alpine team last week, and several local athletes have made the cut for this year’s squad.
Squaw Valley Ski Team stars Bryce Bennett and Travis Ganong lead a list of 43 athletes named to this season’s team, which kicked off the year earlier in the week at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
“This group of athletes includes a healthy mix of World Cup performers, as well as young guns we are developing to be tomorrow’s champions,” said Alpine Director Jesse Hunt in the Thursday, Nov. 12, announcement. “This is one of the largest and deepest teams we have fielded and funded in years. Although we are navigating through a pandemic, we are determined to make this the best season possible. We owe it to the athletes and the nation to be resilient in our pursuit of safe, high-quality opportunities in training and competition. We will keep focused on improvement with this impressive and dedicated group of athletes.”
Bennett, 28, is coming off a season in which he finished in 16th place in the World Cup downhill standings. Bennett, who posted a pair of top-10 finishes at World Cup events last season, is among six athletes named to this year’s A Team.
Joining Bennett on the A Team, which receives the most funding for travel and training, is another longtime member of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, Ganong, who will has 15 years of experience with the program.
Last season, Ganong, 32, finished 13th in the World Cup downhill standings, and 12 in super-G. He had his best result in his final race of the year, posting a fifth-place finish last March in downhill at Kvitfjell, Norway.
Several alpine skiers with ties to the area will be competing for the program’s B Team this season.
Following a season that saw her claim the overall North American Cup title downhill title, Squaw Valley Ski Team’s Keely Cashman has been named to the women’s B Team. Cashman, 21, of Strawberry, also finished third place at the Junior World Ski Championships in alpine combined. The Squaw Valley Ski Team member opened her third season on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team on Monday, competing in the National Championships at Copper Mountain and finishing second place in giant slalom.
Coming off a season that saw her make a number of World Cup starts, Squaw Valley Ski Team member Nina O’Brien, 22, of Edwards, Colorado, also landed on this season’s B Team. O’Brien was the 2019 North American Cup overall champion. She’s competed in four races this season, including capturing first place Tuesday, Nov. 10, in giant slalom at the Italian National Championships at Solda. She was also runner-up in slalom the following day.
Representing Sugar Bowl Academy, Luke Winters, 23, raced several World Cup events last season, including a 19th-place finish in slalom at Val d’Isere, France.
Another local product, AJ Hurt, 19, of Carnelian Bay, will compete for the alpine squad’s C Team. Hurt picked up a pair of North American Cup wins last season. This season she has competed in a giant slalom World Cup race and in Monday’s National Championships, but in both events Hurt didn’t finish her opening run.
This year’s Development Team features a pair of skiers with local ties. Ainsley Proffit, 19, of St. Louis, Missouri, is a product of the Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy. Her best results of last season came at the National Junior Championships where she finished second in giant slalom.
Mammoth Lakes’ Alix Wilkinson, 20, is another skier out of the Squaw Valley Ski Team. Wilkinson claimed a North American Cup victory last season at Lake Louise, Canada.
Athletes named to the U.S. Ski Team receive world-class program support, along with access to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Center of Excellence, as well as athletic benefits including coaching, sport science, sports medicine, high-performance staff and education opportunities. Additionally, A, B, and C Team athletes are fully travel-funded this season. The organization has also made significant headway in its efforts to decrease travel costs at the Development Team level, where members will be responsible for no more than $10,000 in travel and training costs.
For a full list of this year’s alpine skiers, visit http://www.usskiandsnowboard.org.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication to the Tribune. Contact him at email@example.com or 530-550-2643.
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