Lees-McRae wins NCAA National Ski and Snowboard Championship | Avery

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BANNER ELK — While the NCAA March basketball tournaments may demonstrate some of the underdogs’ notable accomplishments, an even more incredible feat took place in our own backyard.

The Lees-McRae men’s and women’s ski and snowboard team became the 2022 United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard National Champions, winning four team national titles and multiple individual accolades at the champion event in Lake Placid , NY, including #1 Lili Bauer. general classification of the women’s alpine combined snowboarding individual title.

Lees-McRae accomplished the unlikely task of reaching the zenith of the sport as high as Beech Mountain itself. Destroying numerous highly skilled Nordic schools, West Coast powerhouses and Rocky Mountain behemoths, the LMC Bobcats brought the coveted crown of winter sports to the southern Appalachian High Country.

The hometown heroes, led by coach Aaron Maas, brought their first-ever titles back to Banner Elk after just six short years on the program.

“We slowly built this program. We were training four days a week, traveling, doing weight training, dry land workouts. A lot of hard work and effort has gone into this season. These children are dedicated. I’m so proud of them and a big cheerleader for snow sports in the Southeast,” Maas said.

Not only did 10 of the Bobcats qualify for the championships, but eight of the athletes are residents of Avery County and surrounding area, truly representing the athletic talent of the surrounding community.

“This team has received incredible support. Parents, school, local community. It wouldn’t be possible without it. We are not a fully funded program. Donations, fundraisers that children have done. They raised more money than our operating budget,” Maas explained.

LMC senior and Avery High School graduate Alex Broussard, who finished second in the individual and helped the Bobcats to third place in the men’s combined in the freestyle, said, “It was a great experience; this program is great. It’s even better because it’s for my city.

Broussard illustrated that currently team skiing and snowboarding is not a varsity sport and the champions should be a headliner for Lees-McRae athletics as a whole. The Cinderella story, along with the many trophies, can be the triumphant success that really puts the team and the school on the map.

Overall team winners include Lili Bauer (Alpine Combined Women’s Snowboard), Lees-McRae Women’s Snowboard Team (Snowboard Slalom), Lees-McRae Men’s Snowboard Team (Giant Slalom), Team Lees-McRae Women’s Snowboard Team (Giant Slalom) and Lees-McRae Women’s Snowboard Team (Alpine Team Combined).

The team celebrated their wins with a surprise recognition event at the Banner Elk Café on Thursday, March 17. In attendance were not only Coach Maas, student champions and competitors, but also future members of the Lees-McRae ski and snowboard team from the prospective 2023 and 2024 freshman classes, displaying the bright future roster of the program, in addition to many supporters and alumni of the LMC.

With much to celebrate, the team is committed to retaining their title for years to come and will continue to be a bright spot for Southeast snowsports and Avery County as a sporting community.

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