Photo Courtesy Dylan Jerz
Another successful year is in the books for the alpine, free ski, and snowboard teams of Sierra Nevada College, with strong results at the 40th annual United States Collegiate Ski/Snowboard Association National Championships. After a long week of competition March 4-10 at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, New York, the teams’ hard work paid off with some national championship titles and hardware for the trophy case.
Starting the week with several team members injured still did not hinder the talent of the alpine ski team with a second-place finish overall for both men and women.
“In the end we worked as a team and did our best and that’s all that matters,” said junior Saana Ahonen. “We were still such a team and the results were good even though we had setbacks, we worked through them.”
Ahonen took the second overall individual national championship, coming in first place for GS. She was pleased with both her results and the teams overall, especially on the day of dual slalom.
“Dual slalom was a success for us. We even took Rals White and Vilde Johansen from the free ski team, and we all did our best and we won,” said Ahonen. “I think that made us feel good in the end even though we had a hard week. Everyone was super happy after that.”
Both the men’s and women’s free ski teams took home national championship titles, as well as individual national championship titles by senior Joris Grintalis and junior Vilde Johansen. The podium was constantly filled with all team members throughout the week, and the tightknit crew motivated each other.
“Overall, we really killed it collectively and I think everyone was very pleased with their performance,” said Grintalis.
“It never felt like a competition with the group of us even though we were the ones fighting for those top spots. For us, it was a group of friends trying to do the best we can and have as much fun while doing it.”
After attending nationals for all four years of his college career and having bad luck, whether it be sickness or not landing a run, Grintalis was pleased to stay on his feet and stomp tricks all week and take home the freeski individual national championship title.
“It felt like a dream to have the first-place overall title finally,” said Grintalis. “Winning feels really good, but truly beating myself this year was the greatest accomplishment I could’ve asked for.”
With the addition of Slalom racing to the snowboarders’ agenda this year, the snowboard team had no days off. Competing in five total events throughout the week and now competing for both an alpine title and a freestyle title with a majority of the team being freestyle riders, the team was challenged, but came out strong.
“We only have one team competing in both style of events where skiers at SNC have two separate teams for each discipline,” said head coach Freddy McCarthy. “We won the overall team freestyle national title handily, and were in a very close second in the alpine events. If it were like the years passed, we would have won the total overall team national title with ease, but had to surrender the snowboard alpine racing national title to Westminster.”
The new format of freestyle and racing made for a busy week, but the team dynamic was at its best.
“I think our team chemistry was at an all-time high,” said McCarthy. “We pushed and motivated each other to keep riding our best through all five competitions. It was the best group I had been a part of in all my four years.”
Photos Courtesy Dylan Jerz