SNC stays on track for 15th title

North Lake Tahoe Bonanza:  Racing to beat the snow from the largest Sierra storm this season, the SNC ski team buried the competition in one day of racing in the West Coast Regional Competition, Feb. 24 at Squaw Valley.

What was expected to be a two-day event was snowed out on the second day, but the 14-time-champion SNC team easily qualified for the USCSA Nationals.

SNC snowboarders also moved a step closer to defending their National Championship by dominating in alpine and freestyle events in the West Coast Regional Competition at held the same weekend at Mammoth.

Both men’s and women’s ski and snowboard teams will compete in the USCSA Nationals at Winter Park, Colorado, the week of March 5-10.

On the ski team, first place in giant slalom went to SNC senior Martin Stocker, from Austria, followed in second by freshman Mickey Ross from New Zealand.

Junior Geoff Goodman from Canada was third, and Luke Speer, a junior from Idaho, took fifth place. On the women’s side, SNC took the top four spots.

Sophomore Martina Hulten from Sweden placed first, followed by senior Lea Lozar of Slovenia. Caroline Bergstroem, a sophomore from Sweden was third, and Jessica Bouleau, a sophomore from Sweden in fourth.

Hilary Talbot, a junior from Vermont finished eighth.

"This team is ready to compete at nationals and defend their title on both sides," said athletic director Tony Carlstrom. "Credit goes to the students for great effort all year, and to coach Branko Zagar who has really pulled the team together.The skiers respect his knowledge of the sport and his approach to coaching. He has the ability to make this team a winner well into the future," Carlstrom said.

Top riders who led the SNC snowboard team with their performances include freshman Spencer Cordovano of Haley Idaho, sophomore Seth Gunsauls of Red Bluff, California, and Bev Vuillimier who is new to the team and has an impressive competition resume.

"Bev will be a strong threat to win the women’s overall combined title at Nationals," said Carlstrom.

In the half pipe, Cordovano put down a run featuring a stellar 540 and several high amplitude hits that impressed the judges and boosted his score high above any in the competition.

Gunsauls followed with a second place run, proving that while he focuses on racing he can compete in any freestyle competition.

Senior Keith Davis had a seventh place finish, and freshman Lance Lynch rounded out the top ten. "There will be a greater emphasis on freestyle riding at Nationals this year and the SNC team has been focusing on becoming more well-rounded riders. I think we have a good chance to repeat the national championship," said Carlstrom.

In the giant slalom competition, SNC riders took five of the top six spots. Cordovano edged out Gunsauls for the first while Davis took a close third place.

They were followed by freshman Ross Johnson and sophomore Rob MacNamara, who finished fifth and sixth respectively.

On the women’s side, Vuillimier took second place even though she specializes in freestyle events.

She was joined in the top ten by freshmen Morgan Moore of Grand Junction, Colorado, and Sarah Wirtanen of Placerville, California.

"The level of riding on the team is very high and I am confident that we can dominate at Nationals. I look forward to seeing our men and women reaching for the top podiumspots," said Carlstrom.