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The road to nationals: Alpine and Nordic skiing

This year, both Alpine and Nordic skiing will be competing at Nationals in Lake Placid, N.Y. Sheridan Westphal ’22, a member of the Alpine team, explained a little bit about skiing at the national level. 


Q: Tell me about your season. What difficulties have you gone through or breakthroughs have you made individually or as a team?

A: This season was really exciting because last year there was no United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) season because of COVID-19. Being back competing as a team has been really fun! This season, we had a lot of competition with Northern Michigan University. They are a newer team, but they really showed up this season, which was really motivating for us. 

Both the men’s and women’s teams ended up second place for the overall division award. At regionals last weekend in Marquette, Mich., our women’s team had a great weekend and ended up second overall at regionals, giving us a spot to compete at nationals. The men’s team had a bit more difficult weekend, and ended up third overall, but they are still able to come to nationals as a ‘wildcard’ team. This will still allow them to score as a team, they will just have to ski towards the end of the run order. It is really exciting that both of our teams get to go compete at nationals this year, which is in Lake Placid, N.Y.


Q: Who gets to compete in nationals?

A: For our region, which is the midwest region, the top two teams (both men’s and women’s) automatically qualify for nationals. This season, they did something a bit different called the ‘wildcard’ team. This allowed the third place teams from regionals to also compete at nationals.


Q: What events are there and which ones are you looking forward to?

A: At nationals, there is the slalom, the giant slalom (GS), and also a paneled slalom team event. Usually, I would say my favorite discipline is the slalom, but I think this year I’m most excited for the paneled slalom team event. It’s a super fun way to get everyone to ski together to beat other teams one at a time. It’s also the only point in the season that we get to participate in this event, so it’s super exciting.


Q: Historically/during your time at St. Olaf, how have Nationals gone for you in the past?

A: This will be my third time competing at USCSA Nationals. Historically speaking, St. Olaf has a strong presence at nationals, but the team changes every year, so it’s hard to predict how we will stack up against the other teams there.


The Alpine and Nordic ski teams will compete at the national championships beginning on March 7. Events will take place over the course of the week and conclude on March 12.


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