Squaw Valley skiers nominated to U.S. Ski Team
The U.S. Ski Team recently released its alpine nominations for the 2017-18 season, and this year’s list includes several local skiers from established athletes like Julia Mancuso to up-and-comers, such as Erik Arvidsson.
Athletes accepting nomination’s to one of the four men’s and women’s teams receive various amounts of support and funding, as well as access to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah.
The teams are broken down into four tiers, which receive a range of support depending on the skiers experience and skill level.
Skiers nominated for A Team status receive full funding from the U.S. Ski Team for the upcoming International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Ski World Cup season. Squaw Valley boasts three nominations to this year’s list, including returning skiers Mancuso on the women’s side and Travis Ganong on the men’s side.
After working his way up through the program, Squaw Valley’s Bryce Bennett picked up his first A Team nomination, and said he’s looking forward to representing the area this upcoming ski season.
“It’s a good community to be a part of because everyone is passionate about skiing,” Bennett said. “Our entire community is focused around winter sports and skiing. We try and do that well — represent Tahoe and who we are.”
Over past seasons, Bennett has worked to offset the costs of moving up through U.S. Ski Team’s program, and if selected to the A Team will receive full support and funding as he prepares for the year’s first competitions in the fall.
“It’s putting yourself in position to ski fast every single weekend in the World Cup,” said Bennett of the benefits of being on the A Team. “And through that building confidence for the Olympics to have a chance to put a run or two down.”
According to the U.S. Ski Team’s website, athletes with the top World Cup rankings will be nominated for one of a maximum of 22 spots to represent the United States at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Athletes on the B, C and D teams have to find ways to raise funds to offset the costs of training and travel, which according to Bennett can run anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 per year.
Locals nominated to this year’s C Team include: Tahoe City’s Garrett Driller, Truckee’s Mark Engel, and also Squaw Valley Ski Team’s Nina O’Brien and Arvidsson.
“This will be my third year on the C Team,” Arvidsson said. “I’m really excited for another year of chasing the dream of ski racing.”
As far as offsetting the costs to be on the team, Arvidsson said the starting point is $20,000 plus travel expenses.
“It’s a lot of money to find,” he said. “Between sponsorships and people, it’s possible. I don’t want to say it’s easy, but we have people who are willing to help out. It’s important for people to know how much dedication is put into this. It’s tough right now because of the money — you do it because you love it.”
Arvidsson said he started skiing on Squaw’s team as a 12-year-old, and credits the atmosphere around the mountain to his development as a skier.
“The culture that we have on our team, there’s not many places where you’re skiing every day and you’re hearing your coaches tell stories about guys who have had success at the highest level,” said Arvidsson.
“It’s right in your face, the Olympic rings are right there. Squaw’s just special, where it’s kind of in your face. It’s right there. You’re dreaming, but it also seems totally possible because you have all these people who have already done it.”
Going forward Arvidsson said he plans on training and getting some races in during the upcoming season, while eyeing long-term goals of making future Olympic and World Cup teams.
“We’re trying to work on all the skills that are needed for long-term success,” he said. “The ski team thinks we have a more established group of guys at the top level right now. We’re taking a little bit of a slower approach to getting there, so that when we get there, we’re really ready for the rigor.”
Other local nominations include Squaw Valley Ski Team’s Keely Cashman with a D Team nomination, as well as National Training Group nominations Luke Winters from Sugar Bowl Academy, AJ Hurt from Squaw Valley Ski Team, and Maureen Lebel out of Truckee.
This year’s Alpine World Cup is scheduled to begin October 29, in Solden, Austria.