Squaw Valley, CA Alright!! Finally we can talk about who the Warner Nickerson Scholarship Fund helped this season. There was a little NCAA red tape to cut thru. Thanks to the golfers of my Golf Classic (June 11th this year) we paid for Sara Kikut of Dartmouth College and Sean Higgins of UVM to attend U.S. Nationals at Squaw Valley, CA. Often college students are overlooked in a national settings, but this has been changing for 10 to 15 years now. Jimmy Cochran qualified for the U.S. Ski Team just over 10 years ago as a sophomore at UVM. In skiing and life there are a lot of different ways and criteria to define success, but later blooming collegiate athletes continue to show their dedication, resolve, and talent. Clearly not everyone is Mikeala Shiffrin and I’m just happy to help college skiers keep hammering toward their dreams.
Sara and Sean wrote blogs about their experiences at U.S. Nationals. Here are some pictures and their story.
Blog by Sara Kikut:
This was my fourth US Nationals, but my first one with sunshine everyday, a parade with a decent crowd, and most importantly my first one competing as a college racer. Squaw seemed to be overflowing with Dartmouth alums. My teammates and I could not walk from the lodge to the parking lot without being approached by a Dartmouth fan. It was cool to have this crowd show support for the college racers.
I raced in only the Giant Slalom and Slalom. The Giant Slalom did not go as planned, I made a mistake on the last pitch and was unable to finish the race. The slalom went much better. Even though I had some trouble on the challenging hill, I was still able to have two fun runs and finish 13th overall. The slalom was where most of us college racers shined. We are all used to the mentality of fighting to finish the course (so we can score points for the team) no matter how much trouble we run into. By working on our finish consistency throughout the season, we learn to push through the difficult conditions.
I, along with the rest of the collegiate athletes, really appreciate having people like Warner encouraging college racers to compete at these high level races. It gives us an opportunity to prove our strength to those who often forget that many of the country’s best junior racers are NCAA athletes. I was a proud college racer watching Tianda Carroll and Avril Dunleavy make NCAA athletes a majority on the junior podium.
Here are some pics of her trip:
Eastern women college crew
Dartmouth ladies going for a dip in Donner Lake.
Thanks to Sara for putting together a blog and some pictures on her trip. She finished 13th in the slalom. Here is Sean Higgins experience at U.S. Nationals. He is a senior at UVM.
Blog by Sean Higgins:
When it was first announced that US National Championships were to be held at Squaw Valley, my home mountain, I knew it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Warner first contacted me about his scholarship for Eastern collegiate skiers while I was competing at NorAm finals in Calgary, Alberta. I couldn’t have been more excited to have the opportunity to race at my home mountain and have the financial support of a skier that so many of us on the college circuit look up to.
Day one of the Championships did not go exactly to plan, with up to 10 inches of infamous “Sierra Cement” falling overnight on the racetrack, making the conditions unsafe for most people to ski, let alone race. However, the next three days of racing were absolutely epic, with plenty of sunshine and awesome racing conditions for the remainder of the event.
The following day in the Giant Slalom, the sun came out and we were treated to amazing racing conditions given the previous day’s weather, thanks to the Squaw Valley race crew’s efforts. I drew bib 10 and was ready to rip. At the end of the day, I ended up with a top-10 result, finishing 9th, and was super happy about how the day went.
Day two’s Super-G was a pretty awesome experience as well. Prior to the race, I had not been on a pair of Super-G skis since before I started at the University of Vermont. Four years out of the game does wonders to your point profile, and I ended up starting number 75, which was dead last, in the Super-G. Challenge accepted. Tom Sell, the Eastern Region project leader for the trip had said at the meeting the night before the race that in all of his years as a coach, he had never had an athlete start in the top seed one day and dead last the next. Another obstacle I had to navigate was that I did not even own a pair of skis that were legal for me to race on. A few creative Facebook messages later and I was allowed to use GMVS athlete Danny Duffy’s skis after he had taken his race run. Thanks Danny! I ended up moving all the way up to 34th from bib 75, and definitely want to add more Super-G to my repertoire in the future!
The series wrapped up with the Slalom in which we were graced with triple World Championship gold medalist Ted Ligety’s presence. It was pretty awesome to see skiing like his in person, especially since he won the race wearing not one, but two GoPro’s attached to his helmet. I ended up placing 12th, a little disappointing because I really wanted to have two top-10’s at the end of the week, but I couldn’t be bummed for too long since the whole event was so awesome. Getting to sleep in my own bed, race on my home hill, and being able to show my friends around was reward enough for me. Results were just icing on the cake.
I really can’t thank Warner enough for his support. College skiing has risen to such a level over the past few years that without the support from people like Warner, racing at these types of events would be out of reach for many skiers that have the chance of placing. So thanks again W, hope your recovery is going well and I can’t wait to see you back out on the slopes!
Thanks to Sean for putting together this blog.
If you want to help athletes like these please attend the Golf Classic on June 11th at the Owl’s Nest Golf Club in Campton, NH.