Team USA on Top at Whistler Cup
The United States sent six top Western Region U16 and 12 U14 athletes to this year’s Whistler Cup April 12-15, 2018, where first-year U16 athlete Ryder Sarchett (Ketchum, ID; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) led the way for Team USA, snagging first in the giant slalom and second in super-G. Additionally, Team USA emerged victorious in the mixed gender team event – a first for the nation at the Whistler Cup.
Whistler Cup is the only FIS-sanctioned event of its kind in North America, enabling U16s to see how they stack up against the best in the world in their age group. Acting as a sort of Who’s Who of international skiing, U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes have enjoyed great success at the event in the past. Olympic champions Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colo.), Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo.) and Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, Calif.) have competed at Whistler Cup in past years.
Team USA returned to the Whistler Cup last season after a brief hiatus from the event. When the FIS age changed from 15 to 16 years old, U.S. Ski & Snowboard acknowledged the importance of elevating the quality and intensity of the U16 program. With the ability to compete on a world stage, these athletes get a glimpse into the depth that exists, further preparing them as they develop into FIS-level athletes.
Ryder Sarchett competes in the super-G at Whistler Cup (Jon Hair, Coast Photo).
The renewed focus on and commitment to exposing U16s to international competition is paying off. Sarchett snagged two podiums and the highlight of the event was Team USA coming out on top in the mixed gender team event over Switzerland in the big final, with France third and Canada fourth. In total, Team USA went home with 11 top 15 individual results. The U14 athletes also enjoyed success, taking home 10 individual top 10 performances, highlighted by Jessica Blackburn's (Ketchum, ID; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) victory in the slalom by over 3.5 seconds.
“We returned to Whistler Cup last year with our first-year U16 athletes to provide initial international exposure as they develop toward the FIS-level,” noted alpine development director Chip Knight. “It’s a well-organized event with high-level competition that is a highlight for everyone who attends. Congratulations to Ryder Sarchett and Team USA for their outstanding results! We will look to build on them in the junior ranks during the years to come.”
In the overall Whistler Cup nation standings, Switzerland scored its second consecutive win, with Team USA taking second and Canada in third.
2018 WHISTLER CUP U16 TEAM
Name, Hometown; Club (Birthdate)
Justin Bigatel, Park City, UT; Park City Ski & Snowboard (4/29/2003)
Mary Bocock, Salt Lake City, UT; Rowmark Ski Academy (10/7/2003)
Aidan Robin, Stowe, VT; Burke Mountain Academy (4/2/2003)
Dasha Romanov, Thorton, CO; Loveland Ski Club (5/3/2003)
Ryder Sarchett, Ketchum, ID; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (7/28/2003)
Isabelle Washburn, Steamboat, CO; Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (1/7/2003)
Ben Brown, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Kathy Okoniewski, Eastern Youth Development Coach
Gunner Sorenson, Loveland Ski Club
Angela Worrell, Rocky Central Youth Development Coach
2018 WHISTLER CUP U14 TEAM
Name, Hometown; Club (Birthdate)
Jack Abuhaidar, Park City, UT; Rowmark Ski Academy (2/13/2004)
Kacey Benjaminson, Tahoe City, CA; Squaw Valley Ski Team (8/17/2004)
Jessica Blackburn, Ketchum, ID; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (4/9/2004)
Levi Brown, Lake Oswego, OR; Mt. Hood Academy (2/4/2004)
Dillon Bush, Park City, UT; Park City Ski Team (6/13/2004)
Paige Dehard, Hailey, ID; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (4/25/2005)
Finnigan Donley, Anchorage, AK; Alyeska Ski Club (2/28/2005)
Annaliese Frohlich, Mercer Island, WA; Crystal Mountain Ski Club (11/14/2004)
Nils Galloway, Snoqualmie, WA; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (9/8/2004)
Saba Grossman, Sun Valley, ID; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (5/24/2004)
Colin Hanna, Portland, OR; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (12/15/2004)
Logan Lindstrom, Sun Valley, ID; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (4/9/2004)
Jim Hudson, Squaw Valley Ski Team
Karen Lundegren, Mt. Hood Academy
Troy Price, Rowmark Ski Academy
James Tacktus, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation
Complete results from Whistler Cup are available here.