Championships fly into town

LAKE PLACID – The U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association kicked off its five-day national championships Tuesday with a snowboard and freeski rail jam, women’s alpine giant slalom and a 7.5-kilometer classic nordic race.

The Olympic Regional Development Authority is serving as host for all events at both Whiteface Mountain and the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex.

A record-breaking 536 collegiate athletes representing 67 universities across six regions will compete in 24 events within a five-day period. This championship represents some of the best collegiate athletes from around the country. USCSA has member schools in every geographic region of the United States. Events include giant slalom, slalom, cross-country sprints, cross-country relays, cross-country distance, slopestyle, skier cross, snowboard cross and rail jam.

At the rail jam, Sierra Nevada College won national championships in men’s and women’s freeski rail jam as well as men’s snowboard rail jam, while Westminster College won a national championship in women’s snowboard rail jam.

“Hats off to Whiteface’s Park crew. Great set up, conditions were awesome, and we’re really excited about how our athletes performed” said Jon Cherry, head freeski and snowboard coach for Sierra Nevada College.

“Whiteface’s park crew was fantastic. They maintained the features and snow surface wonderfully throughout the event and their starter kept everything organized and running smoothly” said Molly Novasel, USCSA Southern California Conference Coordinator. “I’m looking forward to an exciting week of competition.”

The first day of alpine racing on Drapers Drop belonged to Rocky Mountain College. The Battlin’ Bears won both the team and individual women’s giant slalom national championships, with Frida Svedberg taking home her third individual giant slalom title.

“I can’t believe I managed to take that third title. I definitely felt like I put some more pressure and expectations on myself and I am so happy that I managed to keep my head in the game and maintain focus on what I had to do for both runs and not on all the good skiers around me,” Frida said. “Today was an amazing day for the RMC ladies team. Everyone stepped up their game and performed some amazing skiing. Could not be more proud of what all of the girls did today and I’m so thankful to be a part of this team. We are looking forward to the slalom on Thursday.”

After the first day of racing, USCSA Vice President for Alpine Mike Dzubay said, “The snow surface today was firm and fast. Both courses today were world-class and we had a great first day of racing.”

Nordic events started off the week of competition at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex with the men’s and women’s 15k Classic. The University of Wyoming teams had strong performances, winning team national championships for both the men and women.

“The organizing committee has done a phenomenal job of putting on this race in difficult conditions,” said Christi Boggs, USCSA Vice President for Nordic and head coach for the University of Wyoming. “The trails were amazing this morning and despite warm temperatures held up well. Our skiers skied tough in really difficult conditions and we’re super proud of their grit.”

Teams began their quest to qualify for the U.S. Collegiate Skiing and Snowboarding National Championship in their local conference competitions that were held across 11 conferences spanning the nation. Top teams from each conference attended one of six regional championships, which decided who qualified to participate in events held this week in the Lake Placid region.

“The weather on the east coast has challenged the snowsport industry this season, however the record number of athletes competing in our national championships is testament to the draw that this event holds,” said Laura Sullivan, Executive Director of USCSA. “ORDA is doing a fantastic job ensuring that all of our events are running flawlessly, and I’m excited to see the best collegiate ski and snowboard teams in the nation compete this week.”