Ski Team begins winter season with Thanksgiving break ski camps

Sierra Nevada College Ski Team is back on skis getting ready for the upcoming season.  After three months of dry land and workouts at the gym, the Eagles recently finished its second ski camp at Mammoth Mountain, California, where conditions were prime and skiers could get back some good feelings.

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All smiles and excitement during training camp from SNC’s Ski Team athletes.

“The team is the youngest so far,” Branko Zagar, SNC Athletic Director and Ski Team Head Coach, said. “ We have five new athletes, and considering the maturity of the team we are doing pretty well. I believe that with help of older teammates we will be able to create an atmosphere that will help these younger athletes to grow into this team.”

With the addition of four new freshmen, the women’s team has seen a big surge. As like in past years, team athletes speak many different languages.  Freshman Eva Jazbec majoring in Biology speaks Slovenian.  Freshmans Ebba Grant and Caroline Sandén Gustaffson, Finance & Economics and Marketing students respectively, speak Swedish.  English speaking freshman Erika McCormick, from Vail, Colorado, is pursuing a Psychology major. The only senior is Finnish Johanna Tikkanen, who is graduating in May with a Finance & Economics degree. The other skiers on the team are juniors Mihaela Kosi from Slovenia, Francesca Curtolo from Italy, and Henriette Husebye Haug and Kristine Adde from Norway. Kosi, Husebye Hang and Adde are all recovering from bad injuries that cut them off last season. Kosi, after ACL surgery last March, has already tried to free ski, and says she feels confident that her knee has been repaired.

The men’s team instead has only one new skier, Ivo Ricou, a transfer student from France. With him are Norwegian Erik Lund, Austrian Elias Stuerz, Swedish Andri Arnasson, New Zealander Finley Neeson and Cannon O’ Brian, from Vail, Colorado, who is the only senior on the men’s team.

Even if the men’s team is down one skier from last year, Zagar feels confident for the season.

“ I do believe that we should still be very competitive there. The base of the team is same as last year with six very strong and consistent guys,” he said.

During the Mammoth opening weekend on Nov. 11-14, the team free-skied for four days, since many of them didn’t ski during the summer and others had to try new material.

In the second camp they started training on gates, with giant slalom first and slalom after.  The camps totaled to eight days on snow during Thanksgiving break.

“Training was very good, we had good snow and weather conditions,” said Zagar, even if half way through the week the resort was hit by a storm that brought 14 to 24 inches of fresh snow and made it harder to train slalom.

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Senior Canon O’Brian on practice run through the slalom course.

“The start of the season is always somewhat hard but I feel good for the season, especially in slalom,” said Jazbec.

The Eagles will be racing Dec. 5-6 at Heavenly in slalom for USCSA, and will start with FIS on Dec. 10-13, on Mammoth Mountain.

In March, Nationals will be in Lake Placid, New York, where the Eagles will defend their titles.

“The team works great together, better than last year, but sometimes that is not the best. It can create a very homey atmosphere and competitiveness can drop a notch. I will have to make sure that does not happen,” said Zagar.