Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy student-athletes among best in nation
Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy student-athletes have had great success this past winter, with a record number qualifying for spots at national races and competitions.
“It’s so exciting to see such strong results throughout our programming at the end of the season,” said Executive Director and Head of School Brian Krill. “It is a testament to all the hard work of the student-athletes, the coaches, and the whole team. And I am always emphasizing that while we celebrate these top achievements, we also recognize the process all our student-athletes go through to be at their best.”
FIS skiers Aspen McAuley and Zack Staudenmayer earned coveted spots at the U18 nationals in Vail, Colorado. McCauley then topped the podium in both super-G races at the Western Region Junior Championships at Mission Ridge, Washington.
“Mark (McAuley) and I are proud of what Aspen has accomplished over her years at (Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy), both on the hill and in the classroom. The coaching staff has given her the training and support she needs while continuously fueling her drive to become the racer she is today. It has been an exciting progression to watch. It was so satisfying to see her on the top step of the podium in the Western Regional Championship races and finishing well at the U18 Nationals as a first-year FIS racer,” said Aspen’s mother, Cindy McAuley. “We are incredibly thankful for the coaching she has received from Mike Prado this year as a first-year FIS athlete. His coaching style fits perfectly with what Aspen needs. He has helped her improve dramatically this year.”
FIS men’s skier Zac Bower is currently at the Senior Nationals in Sugar Loaf, Maine, competing against the best skiers in the nation in super-G, giant slalom, and slalom. Staudenmayer also qualified but was injured at U18s and is unable to race.
As a tune-up for the championship, Bower went to Mission Ridge for the Western Regional Junior Championships and earned second overall with podium finishes in giant slalom and super-G.
First-year athlete Declan Mack began to break through and show he is competitive in the Western Region with a couple of top-10 finishes.
“All of the U18/21 men have been grinding since June last year. The success that they are achieving at this moment is the product of that alone,” said Brad Saxe, head men’s FIS coach. “The work ethic, tenacity, courage, and character that is on display across this team every day over the course of this long season is by far their most shining achievement and has led to high levels of performance.”
‘TESTAMENT TO THEIR DEDICATION’
Three Sugar Bowl Academy U16 student-athletes, Carl Ottosson, Jack Schrady, and Charlie Baker, are ranked among the top U16 ski racers in the nation, with Ottosson and Schrady currently ranked number one and three in giant slalom in the country. These three have claimed three of five Far West and 15 Western Region spots at the U16 Nationals, which will take place in Sugarloaf, Maine, Saturday through Wednesday.
“These boys’ rankings and performances are a testament to their dedication and hard work both on and off the snow over the past two seasons,” said Head U16 coach Andrew Becker. “During this time, they have honed their tactical intuition and refined their athleticism on skis, which has led to some great skiing over the course of qualification and regional racing this spring. We’re very proud of what this group has accomplished already this spring, and outside of our upcoming Nationals races, we are eager to see them shine as FIS athletes next season.”
The Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy Nordic team wrapped up their competitive season two weeks ago at the U.S. Junior Cross-Country Skiing Championship in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was senior Hayden McJunkin’s final race with Sugar Bowl Academy. She finished strong with two top-10 overall results across all age groups, including an eighth place in the individual 10-kilometer skate race and a second place relay leg. McJunkin will continue her athletic and academic pursuits next year as a freshman at Harvard University and member of their Nordic team.
“I am so grateful for this program and school for providing me with tools and opportunities that I hope to honor in the future,” said McJunkin. “I am both proud and surprised by my season and excited for the next chapter: skiing on the Nordic team for Harvard.”
The Freeride student-athletes have been giving it their all in their quest for invitations to the IFSA North American Junior Championships in Big Sky, Montana. In their bid, they have achieved several podium finishes. Invitations for this pinnacle event are extended in four rounds. Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy ‘s Cole Davidson and Olof Halvarsson were two first-round picks to receive invitations in the 15- to 18-year-old age group from across the nation, while Anders Leckie and Sebastian Baranchuk were two in the 12- to 14-year-old age category. In addition, seniors Elena Messner and Kestrel Sullivan claimed spots in the 15 to 18 female division.
“We are digging into our final touches for the season, with a reinvestment in cementing newly learned techniques into our movements before the season ends, as well as spending chunks of time hammering top to bottom runs to prep for the long venue at Nor-Ams,” said Freeride Program Director Sean Carey. “This season has been one full of growth and experience building for many of our young freeriders. Each day has the opportunity to be filled with new experiences and fresh attitudes ready to learn.”
Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy Alumni Luke Winters (class of 2015) has also seen success this winter on the world stage. After representing the USA as a member of the 2022 Winter Olympics Alpine team, Winters has recently earned two top-10 World Cup finishes in giant slalom.
“In the end, we answer to our mission to provide opportunities to pursue athletic dreams, academic excellence, and personal growth,” said Krill. “The individual and collective successes we are seeing after two long, hard years are a testament to everyone’s commitment to that mission. I wish all the competitors great success as they travel off to the next level of competition.”
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