U.S. Alpine Ski Team announces 2021-22 nominations
The 2021-22 U.S Alpine Ski Team nominations were released Monday, and several of the area’s top racers are among those chosen to potentially represent the program.
A total of 44 athletes have been nominated to the program, which provides racers with varying levels of financial support, coaching, and training opportunities.
“We are inspired by this group of nominated athletes that not only endured but excelled in one of the most difficult seasons in memory,” said Alpine Director Jesse Hunt in Monday’s announcement. “They persevered through a pandemic and remained determined to achieve greatness in spite of the daily challenges. It is a truly extraordinary group and we are proud to announce their nomination to the team in an Olympic year.”
The alpine program is broken down into A, B, and C teams with a developmental team as well. Skiers selected to the A Team receive the most amount of support from the program.
There are a trio of skiers with ties to the Lake Tahoe area that have been nominated to the A Team, which receives the most support from the program. On the men’s side, Squaw Valley skiers Bryce Bennett and Travis Ganong are each set to return to the team. Bennett, 28, has been with the program since 2011, and saw a number of solid finishes in 2020-21, including grabbing fourth place in December’s World Cup downhill event at Val Gardena-Groeden, Italy. Bennett ended the season in 19th place in the downhill rankings.
Ganong, 32, has been with the program since 2006. He had a pair of top-10 finishes in 2020-21, claiming a fourth place in super-G at Val d’Isere, France, and a seventh in downhill at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Ganong closed the season in 16th place in the super-G standing and 18th place in downhill.
On the women’s side, Squaw Valley Ski Team’s Nina O’Brien was also selected to the A Team. O’Brien, 23, has been a part of the U.S. program since 2016, and claimed a national championship last month in Aspen, Colorado, winning super-G. She also took first in giant slalom and second in slalom at the Italian national championships in November. On the World Cup level O’Brien picked up a ninth-place finish in slalom at Semmering, Austria, and a seventh place in team parallel at Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
The women’s B Team will feature local racers AJ Hurt and Keely Cashman. Hurt, 20, captured a bronze medal in slalom at the World Junior Championships. Hurt, who has been with the national program since 2018, earned her first career World Cup points this season. She also took first place at the national championships in slalom last November at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
Cashman, 22, has been part of the program since 2018, but battled through injuries during much of the last season. She did manage to pile up a trio of top-20 finishes on the World Cup level, including a 10th-place finish at Semmering, Austria, in super-G.
On the men’s side, Erik Arvidsson, who grew up competing for the Squaw Valley Ski Team, was named to the B Team. Arvidsson, 24, earned his first career World Cup points this season, posting an eighth place in downhill at Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria. Sugar Bowl Academy’s Luke Winters was named to the B Team as well. Winters, 24, took first place in alpine combined at last month’s national championships, and was second in super-G. On the World Cup level, Winters posted a 19th-place finish in slalom at Chamonix, France.
Squaw Valley Ski Team’s Alix Wilkinson, 20, is the final athlete with local ties to the area who was named to the program’s developmental team. In January, Wilkinson reeled off four straight FIS wins in Aspen, Colorado, claiming first-place finishes in a pair of downhill and super-G events.
Preparation for the 2021-22 campaign is already underway with athletes having spent time training at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and Mammoth Mountain.
The official U.S. Alpine Ski Team will be named in the fall. For full team nominations, visit http://www.usskiandsnowboard.com.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643
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