If it seems like there is a lot of youthful energy and exuberance on Dollar and Baldy, at the Nordic Center and in town right now, there is. More than 500 competitors from 65 colleges and universities across the nation are in town competing in the 35th Annual US Collegiate Ski & Snowboard National (USCSA) Championship. Returning for the second year to the slopes of Sun Valley, this five-day competition is kicking it into high gear from Greyhawk, to the Terrain Park, to Sun Valley’s mammoth 22-foot halfpipe.
Athletes across all four disciplines of Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding are here to lay claim to the title of the top collegiate team in the country. Competition is fierce. Today, the USCSA is hosting events in Alpine racing, Cross-Country, Snowboarding and Ski Cross. This morning’s fresh cover of snow provided a few new inches of powder, and an inspiring wintry feel.
Yesterday, two skiers from Sierra Nevada College took first and second in the women’s alpine giant slalom on opening day. By all accounts, the lightning fast snow was big fun for the racers on Baldy’s Greyhawk run.
And according to Laura Sullivan, Executive Director for the USCSA national organization, in general, the kids are “ecstatic.” She said, “many would not have come to Sun Valley without this event and they didn’t know what to expect. When they got here and saw the Terrain Park, the halfpipe, the great runs, they were beyond excited. The kids who came last year were very positive about their experience and got the word out – Sun Valley is awesome!” We may have a few soon-to-be-locals in the group as Laura said a mem, inviting students to learn about summer job opportunities at Sun Valley has been met with a great response.
Thursday, everyone is invited to Dollar Mountain for a “big air” contest under the lights. Athletes will be showing off their most impressive Slopestyle tricks, all under huge klieg lights. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. and everyone is invited to come to Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge to check it out.
On Saturday, the USCSA is bringing back team Dual Slalom, something Laura said they are very excited about. “The event starts at 9 a.m. and it’s a team event with qualifying races to finals. It should be terrific.”
Off the snow, the visiting athletes are having nearly as much fun as on the slopes. “Many of the kids are impressed with the tradition of the Sun Valley Lodge,” Laura said. “They like downtown Ketchum and appreciate that it’s a walking town. Many of the cross-country athletes have never seen a Nordic Center as nice as this one.”
Laura said USCSA is also appreciative of the 180 local volunteers that have come out to help the 45 people who came to Sun Valley to help with events.
To check out the action for yourself, and to cheer on the athletes, look no further than the base of the runs off the Greyhawk chair, the jumps and halfpipe on Dollar, or the Ski Cross course wending down skier’s right of that mountain. You can also catch a live video feed of the events HERE.
A full list of participating schools follows:
Appalachian State University, Babson College, Boston College, Brown University, Cal State Fresno, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Sacramento, Castleton State College, Clarkson University, Colorado Mesa University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, Hobart College, James Madison University, Lafayette College, Liberty University, Loyola Marymount University, Marquette University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University, Northern Michigan University, Northwestern University, Oregon State University – Cascades, Pennsylvania State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rocky Mountain College, Rutgers University, Saint Anselm College, Sierra Nevada College, Skidmore College, Smith College, St. Olaf College, Stanford University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, The College of Idaho, The Ohio State University, United States Air Force Academy, United States Naval Academy, University of British Columbia, UCLA, UC Berkley, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, University of Colorado – Boulder, University of Idaho, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota – Duluth, University of Nevada, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wyoming, Virginia Tech, Viterbo University and Western Michigan University.