Breakpoints

No Retina
Retina
XS Screen (480px)
SM+ Screen
SM Screen (768px)
SM- Screen
MD+ Screen
MD Screen (992px)
MD- Screen
LG+ Screen
LG Screen (1200px)
LG- Screen
XL+ Screen (1600px)

Sustainability

U.S. Ski & Snowboard, a national and global leader in snow sports, is committed to addressing climate change and stewarding sustainability of winter sports. Millions globally are inspired by winter sports and enjoy healthy, active lifestyles in winter environments. Climate change threatens our winter environments with receding glaciers, rising sea levels, volatile weather cycles and less snowfall.

Bjornsen Wraps Up World Cup Finals In 11th

By Reese Brown
March, 24 2019
Sadie Bjornsen
Sadie Bjornsen wrapped up the season with an 11th-place finish at the World Cup Finals (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Reese Brown)

Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) finished 11th overall Sunday in the FIS Cross Country World Cup Finals mini-tour in Quebec City, Canada, following her 13th-place finish in the 10k pursuit. Two American’s skied to top-five finishes in the final stage with Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Co.) in third and Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) in fourth.

“I was really happy with today, I maybe started out a little aggressive just trying to close the gap and paid for it on lap two,” said Bjornsen. “On the last lap...I was able to hold off the group behind. It is nice to end the season with a good race and complete the season close to the top 10.”

“That was a really fun way to end the season,” said Diggins, who finished 14th overall in the three-day event. “Skating is always so fun because you can go as hard as you want to go and it was really fun to have the tools I needed to be able to use what energy my body had. Very satisfying.”

Finishing her World Cup career at the Quebec City Finals was Ida Sargent (Craftsbury, Vt.).  “Today was really special to have so many people cheering my name and to have all my teammates in the finish area was just so amazing.”

The women’s overall was won by Stina Nilsson of Sweden, with Therese Johaug of Norway in second and Ingvild Flugstad Oetsberg, also of Norway, in third.

Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) was the top U.S. finisher 20th in the three-day mini tour.

“It was an interesting course with a little wind and relatively flat compares to some of the world cups, so it was important to be skiing with a group of guys,” said Bjornsen. “I could see there were some guys skiing fast from behind, so I knew time of day was not going to be great, so tried to play it tactically. My 20th today was my best tour finish, so it was pretty exciting way to finish the season.”

“It was really fun and fast skiing and my skis were awesome,” said Hamilton. “You never really know how a pursuit will go because so much of it depends on the people you are with.  With the wind today, it was so good to be in someone’s draft and starting in the front of my group I was guaranteed to be skiing with people.”

Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo was the overall winner, followed by local favorite Alex Harvey of Canada and Alexander Bloshunov of Russia in third.

The World Cup season is now over, but many athletes will head to the SuperTour Finals starting Friday in Presque Isle, Maine.

RESULTS
Men’s pursuit
Men’s Winner of the Day
Men’s Tour Final
Women’s pursuit
Women’s Winner of the Day
Women’s Tour Final

 

O’Brien, Winters Win U.S. Alpine Championship Slalom Titles

By Tom Horrocks
March, 24 2019
Men's podium
Luke Winters (center) took his second win of the 2019 U.S. Alpine Championship Sunday at Waterville Valley Resort. (Chris Cohen Images)

Nina O’Brien (San Francisco, Calif.) and Luke Winters (Gresham, Ore.) are both on a late-season hot streak after winning slalom titles at the 2019 Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships Sunday at New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley Resort.

O’Brien won her fourth-consecutive U.S. title by taking Sunday’s victory under warm sunshine on Waterville’s World Cup Course, and Winters won his second title to back up his alpine combined win Thursday at Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain.

“I didn’t expect really to win that combined because I hadn’t trained much super-G, but I’ve been training slalom all year, so I knew I had an advantage in the slalom, and then to come here and do this, get two wins after never winning a national title before, is pretty fun,” Winters said.

But it wasn’t easy. Taking a slim .07-second lead over Sandy Vietze (Warren, Vt.) in the first run, a slight bobbly midway down the rutted second run almost cost Winters a shot at the title. But he dug deep into his bag of rut-skiing experience to pull out the victory.

“It was pretty rough out there,” Winters said. “It’s a good thing I grew up at Mount Hood Ski Bowl and skied the wet, salted, rutty snow growing up. So when it’s like that, it tends to help me.”

Garrett Driller (Tahoe City, Calif.), Saturday’s parallel slalom champion, finished second, with Vietze rounding out the podium in third. Jimmy Krupka (Waitsfield, Vt.) was the top junior finisher, followed by Jett Seymour (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) in second and Tim Garrett in third.

In the women’s slalom, O’Brien proved unbeatable once again, winning for the fourth time in the 2019 U.S. Alpine Championships following victories in parallel slalom, super-G and alpine combined. O’Brien now has seven U.S. titles to her credit, and she made it look easy Sunday, taking a 1.45-second advantage over Paula Moltzan (Burlington, Vt.) into the second run.

“I knew I had a good lead, so I didn’t need to reach for some crazy speed that I’ve never skied before, but at the same time, all these girls they are pushing, they are hammering, so I couldn’t go easy (in the second run) by any means,” O’Brien said. “So I just had to ski solid and make clean good turns.”

As the defending U.S. slalom champion though, O’Brien did admit that the butterflies were fluttering at the start. “I was feeling nervous at the top and I was like ‘OK, just think about the skiing’ and it’s working out, so I’m happy,” she said.

Moltzan held on for second, as Tricia Mangan (Derby, N.Y.) was third. Keely Cashman (Strawberry, Calif.) was the top junior, followed by Emma Hall (Avon, Colo.) in second and Caroline Jones (Edwards, Colo.) in third.

The 2019 U.S. Alpine Championships continue Monday at Waterville Valley with women’s giant slalom. O’Brien, the 2015 giant slalom champion, is excited for one final race of the season before heading back to the classroom for the spring semester at Dartmouth College on Tuesday.

“I think I’m going to just sort of keep the same mindset (I had for slalom) and not worry about it,” she said of trying to make it five-straight U.S. Alpine Championship victories. “I feel good about my GS, so we’ll see what happens, but hopefully it will be fun.”

RESULTS
Men’s slalom
Women’s slalom
 

O’Brien, Driller Win First Parallel U.S. Championship Titles

By Tom Horrocks
March, 23 2019
Nina O'Brien
Nina O'Brien won her third-consecutive U.S. title, and first parallel slalom title, Saturday at Waterville Valley. (Chris Cohen Images)

Different venue, and a totally different first-time championship event, but the same outcome for Nina O’Brien (San Francisco, Calif.) as she won her third-consecutive Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships title in parallel slalom at New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley Resort Saturday.

Fresh off her super-G and alpine combined titles earlier this week at Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain, O’Brien was hot from the start in Saturday’s race, posting the second-fastest qualifying time, and then easily moving through the opening rounds and into the semifinals and finals where she defeated Canada’s Stephanie Currie for the victory.

“I’ve had a few good ones lately,” she said referring to her past few days of racing. “I’ve actually never won a parallel before, so this was a good day for me. Certainly a long day, but I think it was fun for everyone racing and watching.”

Currie, who also competes for nearby Dartmouth College, settled for second as Alice Merryweather, who won the U.S. Championships downhill title on Tuesday, rounded out the podium in third.

On the men’s side, World Pro Ski Tour experience proved to be the deciding factor as the top three all recently competed in pro events that featured the parallel slalom format.

“The World Pro Tour definitely gave a little added experience, knowing how to come out of the start gate, and how scary it is to have someone right next to you going down the course,” noted winner Garrett Driller (Tahoe City, Calif.).

Driller, who won his first U.S. title, qualified third and advanced through the event to face off against Tucker Marshall (Pittsfield, Vt.) in the finals. However, Marshall injured his back two gates from the finish in his semi-final victory and was unable to start the finals.

“We have matched up a couple of times on the Pro Tour, and we have gone back and forth in winning runs,” Driller said. “He was really hoping to get in there on the finals with me. He made it there, but his back went out and it was a bummer that he didn’t get to do the final race against me.”

“The day started out really good,” said Marshall, who qualified 11th. “I was feeling really good on my skis...but about two gates from the finish (in his semifinal run against Alex Leever), I slide into a rut and compressed my back...and kind of limped into the finish and into the final,” said Marshall said, who sat out the first run of the finals, but did attempt to start the second to no avail as the pain was too great.

Lever (Vail, Colo.) defeated recently crowned U.S. alpine combined champion Luke Winters (Gresham, Ore.) for third.

The parallel slalom format has proven a huge success on the FIS World Cup with city events in Sweden, Norway, and Russia over the past few seasons. Introduced to the U.S. Alpine Championships program this year, the athletes and the fans embraced the head-to-head format that filled the day with aggressive racing.

“I love this format,” Marshall said. “It’s making a comeback...with younger generations getting into it. There are more races. We had one NorAm this year where I was on the podium again, so I like the event and I can only imagine it’s going to get bigger and bigger.”

Up next, the men and women compete in slalom Sunday at Waterville where O’Brien is the defending champion and will be shooting for her seventh career U.S. title to continue her outstanding season where she also won the overall NorAm, slalom, giant slalom and super-G titles.

“I feel like I’ve found some consistency in my skiing this year, and I was happy to see that show up in my speed races as well,”  O’Brien said. “So I’m hoping to close off the season here in Waterville on another good note.”

RESULTS
Men’s parallel slalom
Women's parallel slalom
 

Bjornsen Siblings Ski To 18th in Quebec City Distance

By Reese Brown
March, 23 2019
Erik Bjornsen
Erik Bjornsen skiing early in the first lap of the men's 15k. (U.S.Ski & Snowboard - Reese Brown)

Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) and Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) both led the U.S. Ski Team in 18th Saturday in the FIS Cross Country World Cup Finals classic distance Quebec City, Canada.  

In the women’s 10k, Bjornsen lost her kick early in the race competing in difficult snow conditions, but fought hard to not lose too much time to the leaders in front of huge crowds screaming encouragement to the racers. Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) was the second U.S. skier in 29th after a fall in the second lap.

“It was tricky out there, a little frustrating but the whole crowd and scene was fun,” said Sadie Bjornsen. “I feel amazing right now in my skiing and unfortunate we didn’t have much kick out there. Tomorrow should be fun and hopefully I have not lost too much time to those front girls, so I can try to ski with them because I am feeling incredible right now and would love to end the season with good distance race.”

“Today was not a very good race for me, it was a good effort, but in the race I had no kick,” said Diggins. “I caught a rut out there and fell but got up and fought hard to stay in the race.”

The women’s race was won by Stina Nilsson of Sweden, with Therese Johaug of Norway in second and Ingvild Flugstad Oetsberg, also of Norway, in third.

In the men’s 15k, Erik Bjornsen skied with the lead group for the first lap taking the lead for a short time. Simi Hamilton was the second U.S. finisher in 39th.

“I am happy with my result,” said Erik Bjornsen. “It was fun today, it may have been the first time I was leading a World Cup. I found a gap and just went for it and it felt easy to be in the lead for a bit.”

“I didn’t know what to expect as I have not done a distance classic race since Lillehammer,” said Hamilton. “It was nice to have a good start position. The poling was by far the hardest part today, the poling trenches were so rotten. It is awesome being here with the home crowd.”

Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo won the race, followed by local favorite Alex Harvey of Canada and Didrik Toenseth of Norway in third.

The World Cup Finals conclude Sunday with a men and women’s pursuit.

RESULTS
Men’s 15k

Women’s 10k

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
*Same-day broadcast
**Next-day broadcast

Sunday, March 24
9:30 a.m. - Women’s 10k pursuit - Quebec City, CAN - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
10:45 a.m. - Men’s 15k pursuit - Quebec City, CAN - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. - Women’s 10k pursuit - Quebec City, CAN - Olympic Channel-TV*

All streams are available via desktop (NBCSports.com/Live, NBCSports.com/Gold and OlympicChannel.com) as well as mobile, tablet and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports app, NBC Sports Gold app and Olympic Channel app are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass.

 

Bjornsen Leads U.S. In Sixth at World Cup Finals Sprint

By Reese Brown
March, 22 2019
Sadie Bjornsen
Sadie Bjornsen was the top U.S. finisher in sixth at the World Cup Finals Freestyle Sprint Friday in Quebec City, Canada. (Getty Images - Dustin Satloff)

Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) battled through a semifinal mishap and soft snow conditions to finish sixth in the FIS Cross Country World Cup Finals freestyle sprint Friday in Quebec City, Canada.  

Bjornsen was the fastest U.S. qualifier in fourth, followed by birthday girl Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.) in seventh and Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) in 15th. In the semifinals, Bjornsen was held up after Diggins and Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla crashed. But she was able to recover and take one of the lucky loser positions to advance to the finals.

“It looked like Jessie and Kalla collided and my skies were stuck under them, so I had to just stand there and really hope they got up fast,” Bjornsen said. “It was a huge surge to get back on the group. In the finals, I was definitely feeling that effort and just barely had anything left.”

Sweden swept the podium with Stina Nilsson winning the race, Maja Dahlqvist in second, and Jonna Sundling in third.

“Believe it or not I really love these conditions,” said Bjornsen. “It is what I train on all summer, so I have a lot of practice, but it was very soft.”

“It was really tough conditions out there and really hard on the legs,” said Caldwell. “I was really exhausted after the semi-finals, but the quarters felt good.”

Two U.S. men qualified for the heats with Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Co.) in 11th, and Logan Hanneman (Fairbanks, Alaska) in 29th.

“I’m definitely satisfied with how today went, but also a bit frustrated for sure,” said Hamilton. “I’ve been feeling really good as of late and I’ve had some good successes sprinting here in Quebec before, and it’s always so incredible to race in front of a giant home crowd with tons of family, friends, and North American supporters out there. But the conditions were really tough for me today. The course broke down so much throughout the day, and I always struggle when it’s even remotely soft and slow.”

Hanneman crashed in the same spot on the first turn as Diggins and Kalla and did not advance. The men’s race was won Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo of Norway, followed by Federico Pellegrino with Sindre Bjoernestad Skar completing the podium.

The World Cup Finals continues Saturday with mass starts in the men’s 15k classic and a women’s 10k classic.   

RESULTS
Men’s sprint
Women’s sprint

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
*Same-day broadcast

Saturday, March 23
9:15 a.m. - Women’s 10k mass start - Quebec City, CAN - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
11:00 a.m. - Men’s 15k mass start - Quebec City, CAN - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
5:00 p.m. - Women’s 10k mass start - Quebec City, CAN - Olympic Channel-TV*

Sunday, March 24
9:30 a.m. - Women’s 10k pursuit - Quebec City, CAN - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
10:45 a.m. - Men’s 15k pursuit - Quebec City, CAN - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. - Women’s 10k pursuit - Quebec City, CAN - Olympic Channel-TV*

 

O’Brien Wins Super-G, Alpine Combined Titles

By Tom Horrocks
March, 21 2019
Nina O'Brien
Nina O'Brien added two more U.S. titles to her resume this week at the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf, Maine. (Photo credit - Jamie Walter)

Nina O’Brien (San Francisco, Calif.) added two more U.S. Alpine Championship titles to her resume, winning both the super-G and the alpine combined at the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships at Wednesday and Thursday Sugarloaf, Maine.

The reigning super-G National Champion, Ryan Cochran-Siegle, (Starksboro, Vt.) also added another U.S. title in super-G Wednesday, to go along with the downhill title he won on Tuesday. In the men’s alpine combined, Luke Winters (Gresham, Ore.) won his first U.S. title after placing 11th in the super-G portion of the combined on Wednesday and winning the slalom portion of the combined Thursday.

On another day of back-to-back races Wednesday, O’Brien finished second in the morning NorAm Cup super-G, then dialed in her line for the second race, which counted as both a NorAm Cup event and U.S. Alpine Championship race.

“I had a small mistake at the bottom of my (first run),” O’Brien said. “So I was a little bit more prepared coming into the National Championship run and knew what I wanted to clean up down there, and I did that, so that was awesome.”

On Thursday, she won the slalom portion of the alpine combined to wrap up the title.

“Nationals are always a high-level competition, but everyone is really friendly and it’s really fun,” she said.

O’Brien, who exploded onto the scene at the 2018 U.S. Alpine Championships with victories in slalom, giant slalom, and super-G, also added the overall NorAm Cup, slalom, giant slalom, and super-G titles to her resume following three days of downhill, super-G and slalom competition at Sugarloaf. She is also one of the favorites when the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships resume with tech events at New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley Resort this weekend, having scored her first slalom and giant slalom points on the FIS Ski World Cup circuit this season.

Up next, the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships head south to New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley Resort for parallel slalom Saturday, slalom Sunday, women’s giant slalom Monday and men’s giant slalom Tuesday.

RESULTS
Men’s U.S. Alpine Championships super-G
Women’s U.S. Alpine Championships super-G
Men’s U.S. Alpine Championships alpine combined
Women’s U.S. Alpine Championships alpine combined

EVENT SCHEDULE
March 23    Parallel Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H
March 24    Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.
March 25    Women’s Giant Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.
March 26    Men’s Giant Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.

 

Rule Your Sound: Two Aerials Athletes Start Music Program

By Elise Saarela
March, 21 2019

The life of a winter athlete seems simple: sleep, ski, eat and repeat. In reality, many U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes have passions off of the mountain as well and dedicate their free time to mastering a multitude of other skills. From skateboarding to public speaking, these athletes have proven to be talented and well-rounded individuals.

Chris Lillis (Pittsford, N.Y.) and Justin Schoenefeld (Lawrenceburg, Ind.) are two prime examples. The two have a shared love for music and often play the guitar together. Lillis has played the piano since he was five-years-old, and has played the guitar since he was 16. Schoenefeld is newer to the art and has been playing guitar for about a year. “I was sitting over at Chris’ house one day last season and he taught me two chords and here we are,” says Schoenefeld, “It’s definitely one of the best things I have started to do in my life.”  

Lillis and Schoenefeld play whenever they have the chance to. “We play on the road constantly, especially in places like China and Russia,” says Lillis, “It’s kind of a way that athletes, especially on the aerials team, relax before competition.”

With their shared passion, Lillis and Schoenefeld decided to expand their love of music to others and started a music program called PC Rule Your Sound. Starting in April of 2018, the program was set up to teach the youth of Park City how to play the guitar, the piano, or drums. Throughout the summer, the program provided individual lessons to 15 aspiring musicians, who are still being taught today. The program is more flexible than most, the students have the freedom to choose what they learn to play. “Our philosophy for the program is that you get to pick the music you want to play and then we teach you that style of music you like,” says Lillis. This has proved to keep the students interested in the lessons. “That’s why it is called Rule your Sound: the kids and parents have more control over what is learned than we do,” says Lillis.

In addition to individual lessons through PC Rule Your Sound, the two also taught a six-week after school program at Park City Day School, which they are hoping to teach again this spring after their competition season wraps. They give credit and thanks to local Jennifer Kandlser, who has a daughter that skis for Park City Ski & Snowboard and works with the day school. “She got us connected with the after-school program,” says Lillis. Another goal of the duo is to play gigs for restaurants, venues, and other events. “Gigs are welcome, we are cheap,” says Lillis.

Playing on a daily basis, teaching frequently, and learning new styles and songs every day, Lillis and Schoenefeld have expanded their knowledge of music and instruments. The two attribute their improvement in playing to the skills they have acquired through skiing and believe their training in aerials has helped them pick up music quicker. “We are already used to spending our entire day learning and practicing new aerials skills and having a certain approach to it, and I think you can take that to other aspects of your life,” says Lillis. Their dedication to mastering a certain trick, being meticulous about specifics, and using their brain constantly has helped them immensely in skiing and now in music.  

“We can play the guitar anywhere and forever,” says Schoenfeld, “Music is good for the soul.”

If you are interested in getting a music lesson from this aerialist duo, please visit https://www.pcruleyoursound.com/  

Farrell Wins 2019 Absolut Park Spring Battle

By Andrew Gauthier
March, 20 2019

The 2019 Spring Battle took place at the Absolut Park in Flachau, Austria, this week serving up a nice change of pace for U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes. U.S. Snowboard Pro Team member Lyon Farrell took the top spot earning the highest score of this very unique competition.

“Wow, I don’t even know what to say,” said Farrell as he watched his score of 97 hit the monitor in front of a live studio audience during the events grand finale prize giving show. “I had the craziest day ever. We had to submit all of our video by 2:00 p.m. and I landed my run 1:50 p.m. I spent all day struggling. Luckily, I was riding with my teammate and good friend Judd Henkes who gave me the best pep talk on the way up the lift before my last run. I almost submitted another run to be judged, but really wanted to do something different. I can’t believe I won.”

Farrell’s run included a 50-50 front 180 Nose to Pretzel and a Blunt 270 out on the rails, a Tailslide 270 on the Waterfall Rail, a front 180 Butter switch backside 540 Tailgrab on the Turbo Knuckle, a front double cork 1080 frontside grab and a backside 1620 Melon on the kickers. Judd Henkes (La Jolla, Calif.), Farrell’s teammate and U.S. Snowboard Pro Team member also performed very well, finishing in fourth-place coming hot off his first FIS World Cup podium at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain in California.

Throughout the bulk of the winter, U.S Freeski and Snowboard athletes compete in numerous FIS World Cup, X Games, Dew Tour and a variety of relatively standardized and structured competitions. The Spring Battle offered an opportunity for these athletes to take a break, but keep the competitive spirit flowing throughout the slopestyle follow cam jam session format. This means that skiers and riders have a limited time frame to hit the terrain park and film one complete top to bottom run, which is then submitted to be judged as opposed to live judging format. This different competition atmosphere allows athletes to celebrate their season ending with an innovative and low pressure contest.

In addition to the main competition, there is also one off best trick events where U.S. Freeski Pro Team member, and 2019 X Games gold medalist, Alex Hall (Salt Lake City, Utah) thrived. Hall won the best 540 with a stylish interpretations of the classic trick including a creative left pre-nose hand drag take off. Also, Hall won the best rail trick competition with a super technical switch left 360 Tokyo drift 360 switch-up to blindside switch-up pretzel 270 off.

Hall will continue the season in Silvaplana, Switzerland, for the final World Cup slopestyle of the season. Hall, along with U.S. Rookie Team member and current slopestyle World Cup leader Mac Forehand (Winhall, Vt.), will be battling it out for the overall title and Crystal Globe. Be sure to tune in and catch the action live.

CUP STANDINGS
Men’s freeski slopestyle
Women's freeski slopestyle

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
*Same-day broadcast

FREESKI
Saturday, March 30.

8:00 a.m. - FIS Freeski Slopestyle World Cup - Silvaplana, Switzerland - NBC Sports Gold
11:00 a.m. - FIS Freeski Slopestyle World Cup - Silvaplana, Switzerland - Olympic Channel-TV*
 

Merryweather, Cochran-Siegle Win U.S. Downhill Titles

By Tom Horrocks
March, 19 2019
Women's Podium
U.S. downhill champion Alice Merryweather (center) shares the podium with Keely Cashman (right) and AJ Hurt Tuesday at Sugarloaf. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Reese Brown)

Alice Merryweather (Hingham, Mass) skied to her first U.S. downhill title, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.) added his second downhill title, and fifth-career U.S. title Tuesday on the first day of racing at the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine.

Following a double-downhill training day Monday on Sugarloaf’s Narrow Gauge course, Tuesday was another double-downhill day with the first run counting as a NorAm Cup, and the second also counting as a NorAm Cup, in addition to being scored as the U.S. Alpine Championship race. Both Merryweather and Cochran-Siegle finished third in the first race and stepped it up for the one that counted for the U.S. title in the second.

“I just gave it a little more edge to cut through the ice...and tried to try to clean up a couple of sections that I didn’t ski as well as I wanted (in the first run),” Cochran-Siegle said of his championship run. “The biggest difference was...I stuck to my line that I wanted, carried more speed on the flats, and was able to hold off coming through the finish.”

Although referring to the course’s hard-packed condition as “ice,” Cochran-Siegle chuckled when his terminology was corrected to “New England packed powder!”

“It’s all East Coast, so we all get the same variable snow,” he said, referring to his family's’ home hill, Cochran’s Ski Area in Vermont where he grew up skiing. But in all seriousness, he had nothing but praise for the course conditions at Sugarloaf.

“This is honestly such an amazing surface to be racing on,” he said. “For a lot of racers, they look forward to being on a surface like this because it’s fair and it holds up. And I was so happy to come here and see just how well the hill has been prepped, it makes it a lot more enjoyable for racers like us to come here.”

Merryweather took a similar approach to the second race as Cochran-Siegle but cranked up the speed a few notches.

“I just sent it a little bit more,” she said of her second race. “I dialed in a some of the things I messed up in the first race and then I just tightened the screws.

‘It was an improvement over the first run,” she added. “It still wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot of fun. The snow here is amazing. It’s just really fun to be back here at Sugarloaf!”

Sugarloaf holds a special place for Merryweather, who grew up just a few hours south in Massachusetts, and she is glad to be close to home following a long World Cup season.

“It’s really, really fun,” she said. “It’s nice to race, not necessarily with less pressure, but different pressure. And especially to come back to a place where I raced my first downhill ever, it’s really special.”

Merryweather’s U.S. Ski Team teammates Keely Cashman (Strawberry, Calif.) and AJ Hurt (Squaw Valley, Calif.) rounded out the podium in second and third respectively. Cashman was also the top junior.

Rounding out the podium in the men’s race, Tommy Biesemeyer (Keene, N.Y.) was second, and Jared Goldberg (Holladay, Utah) was third. Kyle Negomir, who finished sixth in the downhill at the 2019 FIS Junior Alpine World Championship last month, capped off his outstanding season finishing fourth Tuesday and was the top junior finisher. Negomir also leads the overall NorAm Cup standings with four events remaining.

Up next, another double-race day with super-G on the schedule Wednesday at Sugarloaf. Both races will count as NorAm Cup events, with the second race of the day also counting as the U.S. Alpine Championships. Thursday’s schedule includes alpine combined before the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships head south to New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley Resort for slalom, parallel slalom, and giant slalom events Saturday through Tuesday (March 23-26).

RESULTS
Men’s U.S. Alpine Championships downhill
Women’s U.S. Alpine Championships downhill
Men’s NorAm Cup downhill
Women’s NorAm Cup downhill

EVENT SCHEDULE
March 20     Super-G (National Championships) - Sugarloaf, Maine
March 21     Alpine Combined (National Championships) - Sugarloaf, Maine
March 23     Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.
March 24    Parallel Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.
March 25    Women’s Giant Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.
March 26    Men’s Giant Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.