College teams push through snow

Sean McChesney, of Sierra Nevada College, performs a trick during the men’s freeski rail jam Wednesday at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington. (Provided photo — Linsey Fagan)

LAKE PLACID — The U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association continued its five-day Collegiate National Championships Wednesday with a men’s snowboard and freeski rail jam, women’s skier and snowboard cross, men’s alpine giant slalom and a nordic classic sprint.

Day two of alpine racing featured two runs of men’s giant slalom down the Draper’s Drop trail at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington. Showing incredible teamwork, Clarkson University won the team national championship by a combined 8 hundredths of a second over runner-up Sierra Nevada College.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team and their performance,” Clarkson head coach Justin Sperry said. “Their hard work in a supportive and competitive team environment allowed them to push each other all year. A focus on skiing over results and support for their teammates allowed them to execute.”

Nordic teams had their second day of competition at Mount Van Hoevenberg with the men’s and women’s classic sprint. Western State had another strong day, winning both the men’s and women’s team national championships.

“It was incredibly hard conditions to be competing in today,” said Christi Boggs, USCSA Vice President of Nordic. “The constantly changing weather made waxing extremely difficult, and tracks were filling with new snow constantly. Despite all of that, there was still great skiing and teamwork on display all day.”

Competitors make their way through the women’s skier cross course Wednesday at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington. (Provided photo — Linsey Fagan)

In the rail jam and cross venues, Westminster College again won both snowboard events of the day, taking home national championships in both the men’s snowboard rail jam and women’s snowboard cross. Sierra Nevada College won the team men’s freeski rail jam, sweeping the podium, and Rocky Mountain College continued its dominance in women’s skier cross, winning the combined team title.

In a nail-biting final ski cross heat, with less than 1.5 seconds separating first from fourth place, Juliana Damberg took home her first individual national championships. Speaking about her experience on the Cross course, Damberg said, “the SkierCross course was a blast and it was very fun to meet the other girls racing and to participate in the event. The course was so much fun and I’m glad I got the opportunity to ski it so many times and get a little air. I wish that more of my fellow midwesterners competed but it was an awesome experience to compete with girls from all over the country. I’m already looking forward to next year.”

Patrick Wilcox, USCSA Vice President of Snowboard and Freeski said, “our snowboarders and freeskiers have had two great days of competition here at Lake Placid at the SkierCross and Rail Jam venues. I am very excited for Thursday’s first ever USCSA Snowboard Slalom competition to get underway.”

USCSA is the only ski and snowboard league where colleges and universities compete and qualify for post-season competition as a team. This emphasis on team performance is a departure from the typical individual or world cup scoring format often found in skiing.