Jackson Hole, WY News

A week of college athletes showcasing their abilities on the mountains and across the trails of Jackson Hole came to an end Saturday night, with final awards being handed out at Snow King Hotel.

While individuals across all disciplines vied for national titles, races for team championships played out all week. Teams were awarded titles in each of the disciplines — like snowboard rail jam, ski giant slalom and Nordic classic team sprint — and those efforts went toward combined championships in alpine, freeski, Nordic, snowboard freestyle and snowboard alpine. Of the 10 combined team championships handed out, just four colleges graced the podium, with Utah’s Westminster College and Nevada’s Sierra Nevada College both claiming four titles.

Sierra Nevada showed its dominance in skiing, taking the men’s and women’s combined titles in alpine and freeski. Westminster was strong in snowboarding, taking the men’s and women’s snowboard freestyle and alpine championships.

Castleton University from Vermont won the men’s combined Nordic championship, and Clarkson University in New York took the Nordic title on the women’s side. The University of Wyoming, the closest to being able to call Jackson a home site, finished third in women’s Nordic.

“I’m super happy with how everyone performed,” Sierra Nevada coach Cole Lyon said following Thursday’s ski slopestyle. “Each individual athlete did the best they could with what they had, and that’s what counts in our sport.”

The team aspect is unique to the USCSA national championships, with it being the only college ski and snowboard league that competes in the postseason as a team. Combined championships are scored by the places of each college in each discipline. Westminster’s men’s team snowboard freestyle championship, for example, was the result of its combined scores in slopestyle, rail jam and boardercross.

Clear weather and excellent snow was noted throughout the week by athletes at Snow King and skiers at Trail Creek. Castleton, the men’s Nordic combined team champion, kicked off its run to the title by taking the win in the 7.5-kilometer team race on March 11.

The opening race also served as a testing ground of sorts for the team, which head coach Marty Maher admitted gave him some concern as the skiers left their home trails in Vermont to tackle high-altitude racing in Jackson.

“I was pleased with how the men skied today,” Maher said last Monday. “The snow and weather today is different than we are familiar with back in Vermont, but we were able to adapt. Rainer Kenny and the crew from Trail Creek did a great job setting the course and running a smooth race.”

While those type of concerns may have existed at the beginning of the week, USCSA executive Jay Moyer said near-perfect weather helped turn away any anxiety about the new venue by the end of the week.

“I would say overall the event ran fantastic,” Moyer said. “It took a lot of labor hours to bring on the event, but it was one of, if not best, events we’ve ever had.”

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