Racing up the ranks |

Racing up the ranks

Photo by Court Leve/Sun News ServiceTravis Ganong, 17, sits in front of his trophy collection at his Alpine Meadows home. The Truckee High senior was named to the United States Ski Team's Developmental Team.

When asking a young skier who has just been selected to a national team ” and who is ranked first in the country in all four Alpine disciplines ” what he has done differently in the recent past to set himself apart, one might expect to hear of insane training regiments, social seclusion or strict diets.

Not so with Travis Ganong, an Alpine Meadows resident, Squaw Valley racer and Truckee High senior who recently was named to the United States Ski Team’s elite Developmental Team.

It seems that 17-year-old Ganong has joined the ranks of local world class skiers who credit their international success back to fun.

Ganong credits his recent successes not only to having fun on the hill, but to transferring from North Tahoe High ” which recently changed their schedule ” to Truckee High, where it was possible for Ganong to take the winter term off of school to focus on skiing, and still graduate this spring.

Ganong’s focus on skiing, however, was not confined to the race course.

According to Ganong, while other race programs train on gates six days a week and go to the gym all the time, Squaw uses the terrain they have.

Ganong said he skied KT-22 all day every day, which made him faster and more technical on the race course.

“It’s all about skiing KT,” Ganong said. “That’s where it’s at right there.”

Ganong, whose older sister Megan was also a national-caliber racer, says that freeskiing the world-class terrain at Squaw on a regular basis, keeping things light and having fun, have been the difference this year ” the difference that raised his skiing to the next level.

Squaw Valley Race Team coach Mark “Sully” Sullivan agrees that freeskiing is definitely an essential part of success.

“We believe that freeskiing is the basis to everything,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan equates Ganong’s success, and his mentality, with names like Marco Sullivan and Julia Mancuso.

“A lot of it is that he just loves to freeski,” Sullivan said.

Being a part of the Squaw Valley race program has allowed Ganong to ski with these local national-caliber skiers, like Marco Sullivan, who Ganong said he skied with regularly this winter.

While Ganong’s past winter, which led up to his top rankings and breaking into the national scene, seem pretty laid back and fun-filled, his entrance into national team ski training sounds more hectic.

On Friday Ganong takes off for his first national camp at Mammoth, where he will train until May 23. Then he heads to the Olympic Training Center in San Diego for a week.

After that it’s back to the real world so he can graduate from high school.

After graduation his life becomes a blur of ski destinations that sound like the pages of POWDER Magazine: Mt. Hood for two weeks, Chile in August, then New Zealand, Austria, Colorado …

While Ganong is used to travel, and even has some international ski experience with the Squaw Valley team, travel will most likely be the biggest change in Ganong’s regiment.

According to National D Team coach Tom Sell, the transition from club level to national caliber skiing is based mostly on the amount of travel and the frequency of training.

With Sell living in Vermont, another coach in Utah, a technician in Oregon and athletes spread all over the country, the team must hold camps at certain locations and then go back home.

As Sell puts it, skiers can’t just drive to their home mountain, train and then drive home.

“It’s a commitment to be on the national team,” Sell said. “The guys have to have 100 percent participation on a project. If they can’t do that they shouldn’t be on the national team.”

Sell said he is excited about the six athletes selected to the team this year. With the two goals of the D team being to select multiple-discipline athletes with potential for greatness in the future and to put together a strong junior worlds team for that year, Sell feels that Ganong is an asset to both.

After being ranked first in all four disciplines in the nation ” not a common feat for a 17-year-old ” it is not surprising that Sell said Ganong was selected based on his high world rankings, which make him a threat for the junior world championships next year.

And he’s still just 17.

“We have time to really take care of his program and develop him,” Sell said.

The selection marks another in a long line of Squaw Valley racers who have made the national team, yet another selection that the coaches at Squaw can be proud of.

“We’re all really proud of him,” Sullivan said. “We want to congratulate him, from his Mighty Might coaches all the way up to his FIS coaches.”

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