USCSA championships underway
LAKE PLACID — The U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) kicked off its annual Collegiate National Championships on Tuesday with a women’s snowboard and freeski rail jam, men’s skier and snowboard cross, women’s alpine giant slalom, and a 7.5-kilometer classic Nordic race.
The five-day event will feature 527 collegiate athletes representing 65 universities across six regions. Events include alpine giant slalom, alpine slalom, nordic sprints, nordic relays, nordic distance, slopestyle, skier cross, snowboard cross, snowboard slalom, snowboard giant slalom and a rail jam.
At the snowboard and freeski venue at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington on Tuesday, Westminster College won national championships in both the women’s snowboard rail jam and men’s snowboard cross, while Sierra Nevada College won a national championship in women’s freeski rail jam and Nicolo Monforte, of the University of Nevada Reno, won a national championship in men’s skier cross.
“I am overjoyed by both Nico’s victory and maybe to a greater extent the team’s success,” said Ross Collins, the head coach of the University of Nevada Reno. “Nico, has put the perfect cap on a strong collegiate career. He commanded the field, defending his title from Mount Bachelor last year. But watching this group support each other throughout the season and to see that continue through today’s team win is so well deserved. Skiing is an individual sport, but when these kids get a chance to act as a team, they support each other so well, and they deserve this result. I’m very proud.”
“I felt solid on my skis all day,” Monforte said. “I was able to capitalize on some fast starts and a smooth line on the bottom section of the track. I’m excited to defend the national championship and very proud of our team for bringing home a national title to Nevada. I think the boys stepped up in a big way and proved that we can compete with the best in the nation. A big thanks goes out to our boosters foundation back in Reno for their continued support of our team. We’re looking forward to the rest of the week here in Lake Placid.”
The first day of alpine racing on Drapers Drop belonged to Sierra Nevada College. The Eagles won both the team and individual women’s Giant Slalom National Championships, with Saana Ahonen taking home her first individual giant slalom title.
“It was a really tough day but the team worked really well together and in my opinion that’s why we won today. I’m happy to be an Eagle and part of this great team,” Ahonen said.
“I am really happy with the team’s performance,” said Elias Struz, head coach of Sierra Nevada College. “We have had a season with a lot of ups and downs, which made us stronger as a team. The girls stood up for each other and sacrificed their individual success to achieve the underlying goal, which was to win as a team. They made me really proud and happy about my decision to be the coach this year.”
Nordic events started off the week of competition at Mount Van Hoevenberg with the men’s and women’s 15K Classic. St. Olaf College took home the men’s collegiate team national championship and Western State Colorado University won the men’s title.
“Western State nordic had a stellar day,” coach Duncan Callahan said. “The men’s team won the day with a very strong showing by junior Gordon Gianniny in second place. The women’s team was paced by three freshmen in the top 12.”
USCSA is the only ski and snowboard league where colleges and universities compete and qualify for postseason competition as a team. This allows for a greater number of competitors to attend the event, with more than 210 alpine athletes, 210 freeski and snowboard athletes and 100 nordic athletes competing this week in Lake Placid. Teams began their quest to qualify for the U.S. Collegiate Skiing and Snowboarding National Championships in their local conference competitions, held across 11 conferences spanning the nation, this January. Top teams from each conference attend one of six regional championships, which decide who ultimately qualifies to participate in events at the Collegiate National Championship.
“Today we had a great first day of competition across all of our disciplines,” said Adam Stark, President of USCSA. “The sunny weather brought out an enthusiastic crowd, with some of the craziest action at the Cross course. The athletes were giving their all and went big on the final jump.”
Live video and audio feeds from the competitions can be found online at www.uscsa.com/broadcast.