The Rocky Mountain College Ski Team has once again proved they are a force to be reckoned with and won both the men’s and women’s USCSA National Championship Titles.
The weather conditions in Bend, Oregon, were less than optimal for the ski team as they battled through rain, snow, wind, and poor visibility. Despite the strain of long travel and difficult weather conditions, the ski team came out on top. This marked as the first time in Rocky Mountain College history that both the Men’s and Women’s Ski Team have won the overall national title.
Freshman Elsa Wilhelmsson saw the rough conditions as an advantage for the Bears rather than an obstacle. “I think the bad weather and rough conditions actually helped us win the gold,” said Wilhelmsson. “The team’s positivity and determination towards racing in difficult conditions is one of our greatest strengths. The worse it gets, the better it is for us.”
The women started the week strong, winning the slalom races with senior Frida Svedberg placing 1st, freshman Elsa Wilhelmsson 4th and sophomore Emeline Lafarge 9th. Later in the week, they found themselves 11 points behind after the rst Giant Slalom run but came back strong with Svedberg once again taking the win, Wilhelmsson placing 3rd, and junior Camille Virelaude placing 7th. In the end the overall standings were all tied up. The tie was broken using the scores of each school’s top three racers, thus making the RMC Women’s Ski Team the USCSA National Champions with a 5 point lead over the next competitor.
Frida Svedberg, four time G.S champion and three-time overall champion, reflected on the end of her Battlin’ Bear ski racing career: “It actually feels kind of sad,” said Svedberg. “Skiing has been a part of me and my family’s life for many years, a lot of time, sweat and effort has gone into it.” After battling injuries throughout her collegiate ski racing career and understanding the incredible amount of training to continue racing at such a high level, Svedberg has no plans to continue ski racing after graduation. “I have had an amazing ski career and am lucky to end it with such a great feeling and such great memories. I am extremely thankful and happy that I have had the opportunity to be a part of a team with so many great people that have made the past four years unforgettable.”
The RMC Men’s Ski Team defended their title and claimed the 2017 overall National Title for the Battlin’ Bears after taking the team win in both G.S and Slalom.
Sophomore Andraz Reich Pogladic took 1st in Slalom and 2nd in G.S., Senior Erik Hogbom placed 3rd in Slalom and 5th in G.S, junior Sean McCormick placed 6th in G.S, and Andrija Vukovic placed 10th in Slalom.
Reich, who won the individual championship in both G.S. and Slalom said that team unity helped the men defend their title. “What helped us is that we all come from different countries and I think we took the best of each of our backgrounds and created the best mix,” said Reich. “As the season progressed and our competition rose so did our motivation and hunger for wins.”
Along with dominating the Alpine races, the Bears represented Rocky in Freeskiing with sophomore Susan Beks taking the 1st place crown in Skier Cross for the women, Reich Pogladic placing 4th, and McCormick 7th for the men.
Bob Wilmouth, President of Rocky Mountain College, expressed his pride in the Ski Team. “Rocky Mountains’ Ski Team epitomizes excellence which has now become a habit for those student athletes,” said Wilmouth. “They set the bar for the rest of us with their strong desire to win and their tireless effort to succeed.”
The Battlin’ Bears ski teams are determined to continue their domination of the slopes. Despite the end of downhill ski racing for the seniors, the team still retains many strong athletes with more years of racing ahead.
Svedberg expressed her optimism for the future of the Battlin’ Bears, saying, “I know the girls are going to do great after I am gone, there is no question about that. The team already has so many fast girls that have been skiing great all season, chasing at my heels if not beating me. They have the determination and ability to perform when needed and I know they will hold up the Rocky colors with brilliance.