Lapanja, Murphy awarded among top junior alpine skiers |

Lapanja, Murphy awarded among top junior alpine skiers

Submitted to swright@sierrasun.comSydney Staples, center, Emma Naatz, left, and Lila Lapanja stand on the podium as the top juniors in the combined at Nationals.

Lila Lapanja of the Sugar Bowl Ski Team, a 16-year-old second-year J2, was awarded third place in the junior combined at the U.S. Alpine Championships held last week at Winter Park, Colo.

Lapanja, formerly of the Diamond Peak Ski Team, earned the distinction for finishing with the best time in the slalom and super G among junior competitors. Junior racers are ages 19 and younger.

Western Region juniors swept the combined, with Sydney Staples and Emma Naatz of Utah taking the top two spots.

Standout Truckee skier Morganne Murphy of the Squaw Valley Ski Team was presented the prestigious Willy Schaeffler award during the U.S. Alpine Championships.

The elaborately engraved gold and silver belt buckle featuring the U.S. Ski Team logo was presented to Murphy by Walt Evans, national competition director of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, at the awards banquet concluding the season.

The Willy Schaeffler award is presented annually to the combined winner at the J2 National Championships, both male and female. The J2 National Championships were held in early March at Sugarloaf, Maine.

Other notable past recipients of the award include U.S. Ski Team members Tim Jitloff (2002) of Truckee, as well as Bode Miller (1996), Sarah Schleper (1995), Tommy Moe (1989), and Kristin Krone (1987), owner of the Wild Cherries Coffee House in Truckee.

Willy Schaeffler was a skiing pioneer and the head coach of the U.S. Ski Team during the 1972 Sapporo Olympics. He also was the director of ski events at the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley.

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