US Ski & Snowboard today announced the members of the US Alpine Ski Team for the 2021-22 Olympic season, and a number of local skiers are among those selected.
Longtime Olympic Valley members Travis Ganong and Bryce Bennett have once again been called to the program’s A team; while on the women’s side, Nina O’Brien, who grew up skiing in the region, has just had a better career season and will also be a member of Team A.
O’Brien, 23, has just completed a year in which she landed ninth in slalom and 10th in giant slalom at the World Ski Championships. She opened her 2021-22 campaign by winning ninth place in the giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, last month.
Ganong, 33, nabbed eighth place in super-G at last year’s World Ski Championships. He also landed seventh in a World Cup downhill event and fourth in a super-G World Cup race last season.
Bennett, 29, finished last season with two top 10 finishes on the World Cup circuit. He was also 10th in downhill at the World Ski Championships and was fourth earlier in the year in a World Cup downhill race.
Team B is made up of two promising young players, Keely Cashman and AJ Hurt. Cashman, 22, started last season with lots of promise, winning national championship podiums in Copper Mountain, Colo. Followed by his first career World Cup points, but his season was cut short following a fall to training. She had another serious accident in May at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, but has since made a full recovery. Cashman competed last month in the giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, but was unable to qualify for the second run.
Hurt, 20, opened his 2021-22 season in fashion, collecting World Cup points with his 20th place in the giant slalom at Soelden. She is the reigning national slalom champion, winning the event last year at Copper Mountain.
On the men’s side, Erik Arvidsson and Luke Winters have been named to the program’s B squad. Arvidsson, 25, scored his first World Cup points last season, which was underscored by an eighth place finish in a World Cup event in Austria. Arvidsson also had two European Cup downhill victories.
Winters, 24, of Sugar Bowl Academy, won first place in the slalom last year at the national championships at Copper Mountain. He also collected World Cup points in two slalom events.
This year, all members of the A, B and C teams of the program are fully funded for their travel. Development team members are responsible for up to $ 10,000 in travel and training costs. Locally, Alix Wilkinson has been appointed to the development team again. Wilkinson, 21, from Mammoth Lakes and a member of the Squaw Valley ski team, had her best streak of the season in January when she won four consecutive FIS events.
The skiers of the 44-member US Alpine Ski Team are set to continue the season this weekend with parallel World Cup races in Austria as they vie for a spot on the US team. Olympic skiing, including training, will take place from February 3 to 19.
Justin Scacco is a writer at Sierra Sun. He can be contacted at [email protected]