Sierra Nevada College inducts two alumni into first Hall of Fame class
Sierra Nevada College, whose ski and snowboard teams have claimed a whopping 300 combined individual and team national championships over the last 15 years, launched its Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday, April 10, honoring ski racers Janja Lupse-Virizlaj and Uros Pavlovcic as the first two inductees.
“The athletes who have competed for Sierra Nevada College over the years are tremendous athletes who skied their hearts out for the school. Having a Hall of Fame to honor them makes sense,” said Selection Committee Member Tim Cohee, who owns California ski resort China Peak and is part of the Sierra Nevada College faculty.
Lupse-Virizlaj and Pavlovcic were honored alongside the Sierra Nevada College 2014 national champion teams during the annual Janet Pahl and Warren Kocmond Ski and Snowboard Banquet at the Chateau in Incline Village. The banquet is the opening event of the college’s annual homecoming and alumni reunion weekend.
Alumni Director Erika Cole Gillette spoke to the 171 banquet guests about honoring their athletic heroes as an example of the college’s culture of excellence.
“Our alumni are an impressive group of self-starters, entrepreneurs, athletes and scholars,” she said. “They are important members of our social and economic community.”
Lupse succeeds at skiing, science, energy conservation
Lupse joined the Sierra Nevada College (SNC) women’s ski team in 1991, the same year Ski Racing Magazine named her “Skier of the Year.” Lupse had earned this honor specializing in the giant slalom event with the Yugoslavian Junior National Ski Team.
In her first year with SNC, she received the NCSA All-American award and placed eighth in the U.S. National Championships. Coach Chris Hendrickson said she was “determined and focused. No one was going to get in her way.”
Lupse earned five NCSA championship titles with SNC’s teams and went on to join the U.S. Women’s Pro Ski Tour.
After completing a BA in environmental science and ecology at SNC, Lupse earned a MA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Lupse stayed in the field of environmental science, building a career focused on energy conservation and efficiency. Today, she manages the New Jersey programs of the Conservation Services Group.
Pavlovcic’s record unparalleled
Pavlovcic joined the SNC men’s ski team in 1996 after seven years with the Slovenian National Ski Team.
While at SNC, Pavlovcic earned an unequalled six individual and two team USCSA national championships. In 1998, Pavlovcic won every technical race he entered in the USCSA.
While competing for SNC, he also won the Grand Slalom event at the 1997 World University Games in South Korea, earned three medals at the U.S. National Championships, won four Continental Cups, and was named an Academic All-American in 1998.
After completing his college eligibility, Pavlovcic returned to the Slovenian National Team for four more years, finishing in the World Cup top 15 eight times and competing in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Pavlovcic has maintained a career in ski racing, coaching at Mount Hood Summer Camps, Boise State University and the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation, before establishing his own UP Ski Racing Summer Camp in Switzerland in 2004. Pavlovcic has also coached the Buck Hill Ski Racing Club in Minnesota since 2006.
42 national titles and counting
Sierra Nevada College first competed in the NCSA (now the USCSA) in 1990, with a men’s team of three athletes.
A NCSA women’s team was formed in 1991, and in the last 24 years, the men’s teams have earned 17 national championships and the women’s teams have earned 18 national championships.
The college’s snowboard teams have won the USCSA national championships every single year since they were formed in 2007.
The College also been home to many accomplished professional skiers and boarders, and many former — and future — Olympians.