North Lake Tahoe Bonanza: The Sierra Nevada College men’s ski team has been rallying all year. Each time an opposing team’s racer threatens to supplant a SNC athlete from the top three spots in a race, the team rallies to finish 1-2-3, usually capturing fourth place as well.
Now the team needs to rally for Tyson McGinty, a senior skier on the squad who went down in Tuesday’s practice with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
McGinty is done for the year, said SNC ski coach Branko Zagar, and subsequently so is his skiing career since the senior is out of eligibility after this season.
"It’s tough missing Tyson. He’s been skiing really well this year and we’re definitely going to miss him," Zagar said.
Zagar said freshmen Gunnar Gottschalk and Jonathan Cherry will need to improve quickly in McGinty’s absence.
"They are very important for us now. I’ve been sort of letting them come along at their own pace and now I’ll have to pressure them some more," Zagar said. "They won’t get the time I thought they’d get to really improve their racing, but that’s OK. I have confidence in them."
The team will lean heavily on the young racers, Zagar said, because SNC will take five strong racers to the national championship race. Senior Geoff Goodman, sophomore Mickey Ross, freshman Kevin Sheehan and fellow frosh Matyas Mleziva are currently slated in the top four spots.
The team did well in their race Saturday at Sugar Bowl. The Eagles captured yet another sweep of the top spots in slalom at the United States Collegiate Skiing Association race as Ross, Mleziva, Sheehan and Goodman placed 1-2-3-4.
"Basically I’m not seeing any reasons not to win the national title this year. The guys are racing well and they are still getting better every race," Zagar said.
"He’s shown a lot of commitment. He’s the first on the practice course early in the morning and takes care of his teammates when they are down. He is our leader," Zagar said.
Mleziva followed Ross in second place with a time of 1:27.73, and Sheehan captured third with a time of 1:28.76. Goodman took fourth with a time of 1:28.96. McGinty, in his last collegiate race, placed sixth with a time of 1:30.28 and Gottschalk grabbed seventh with a 1:33.61. Cherry rounded out the Eagles’ attack in 23rd place with a time of 2:29.07.
The SNC girls did well at the race also, sweeping the top three spots and placing six of their seven racers in the top ten.
Junior Jessica Bouleau led the team with a first-place finish, notching a time of 1:35.21. Freshman Laura Hoff placed second – her highest finish this year – with a time of 1:38.27.
"I’m so happy for what Laura has done. She is just improving all the time and working really hard in practice. I think (finishing in second) is something she can do easily," Zagar said.
Junior Martina Hulten placed third in 1:39.54, which Zagar said pleased him because she views her stronger event as the giant slalom and has made great strides in slalom.
Caroline Bergstrom, also a junior, placed fifth with a time of 1:41.74. Hilary Peterson, another junior, placed eighth with a time of 1:46.10, and senior Hillary Talbot followed closely behind in ninth place with a time of 1:46.79.
Also, Malin Ericksson competed in her first race with the team, though she didn’t finish. The freshman and Swedish native is new to SNC this semester and Zagar said she’ll be an asset as the season continues.
The Sierra Nevada Ski Team races next this weekend at Northstar-At-Tahoe. Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete in slalom on Saturday and giant slalom Sunday.
Bonanza Staff Writer