U.S. Alpine Ski Team kicks off 2019-20 season, several Truckee-Tahoe athletes on roster | SierraSun.com

U.S. Alpine Ski Team kicks off 2019-20 season, several Truckee-Tahoe athletes on roster

The U.S. Alpine Ski Team has gotten its season underway, and a number of Truckee-Tahoe skiers are among those slated to compete for the program this year.

From veterans like Travis Ganong and Bryce Bennett to the next generation of alpine skiers such as AJ Hurt and Keely Cashman, the area is well represented by several of its top winter athletes.

“We have experienced athletes who are leading this team, combined with young hard-charging athletes, and proven talents returning from injury,” said Alpine Director Jesse Hunt, in a post by U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “The team worked hard on the fundamentals this preparation period with the goal to re-emerge as a team bound for the top … the Sölden World Cup was a great start to the journey.”

In alpine racing, Ganong, 31, and Squaw Valley’s Bryce Bennett, 27, will again be center stage for the men’s squad, having both been named to the A Team.

Last year, Bennett finished in seventh place in the downhill standings, while Ganong finished 16th in the super-G standings.

On the women’s B Team, Squaw Valley Ski Team’s Nina O’Brien, 21, is coming off winning the overall title on the North American Cup tour. O’Brien, of Edwards, Colorado, was also first in slalom, giant slalom, and super-G last season. Most recently, she competed in the World Cup opener, racing to 21st place in giant slalom on Oct. 26, in Soelden, Austria.

Carnelian Bay’s AJ Hurt, 18, is coming off her best season on the snow, having finished second in the North American Cup overall standings. Hurt, who is a member of the Squaw Valley Ski Team, finished first place in the downhill standings and first in the alpine combined standings. Hurt also made a World Cup start in October in Austria, but wasn’t among the top 30 times that qualified for the second round of giant slalom racing.

Last season, Keely Cashman, 20, of Strawberry, claimed a pair of National Junior Championships, winning slalom and super-G. She also took first place at the National Championships in giant slalom. Cashman, who represents the Squaw Valley Ski Team, competed in the World Cup opener in Austria last month, but didn’t qualify for the second round of giant slalom racing.

On the men’s B Team, Sugar Bowl Academy’s Luke Winters, 22, of Gresham, Oregon, picked up a win in slalom at the National Championships this past season, and finished the North American Cup in fifth overall.

Two other skiers with local ties have also been named to the women’s developmental team. Sugar Bowl’s Ainsley Proffit, 18, of St. Louis, Missouri, and Squaw Valley Ski Team’s Alix Wilkinson, 19, of Mammoth Lakes, will both be part of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team.

Athletes competing on the U.S. Ski Alpine A, B, and C team will be fully travel funded for the 2019-20 season, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

“The organization has also made significant headway in our efforts to decrease travel costs at the development team level, where members will be responsible for no more than $10,000 in travel and training costs with their team,” said Hunt in a May post from U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.