Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Coeds race, play and discover Sun Valley

Championship games play out on Dollar and Baldy


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

University of Virginia’s Baxter O’Brien grabs big air above the halfpipe on Bald Mountain Saturday morning. Photo by Willy Cook

On Saturday, March 12, at 9 a.m., Sun Valley Resort's Warm Springs Lodge was teeming with college athletes. The young men and women were gearing up, text messaging and laughing with a great spirit of camaraderie as they prepared to head out the lodge to compete in a final day of events, the halfpipe and slalom competitions on Bald Mountain.

Swarms of college students had roamed Sun Valley and Ketchum since Monday, March 7, taking over the mountain lodges by day and Ketchum restaurants and bars by night.

"We love it here," said Ryan Lawless, a slalom skier from Colby Sawyer College, in New London N.H. "Would we come back? Hell yeah."

These college athletes came to compete in the 33rd annual United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboarding National Championships. For five days, more than 500 athletes took to Baldy and Dollar mountains to compete in 26 events including giant slalom, slalom, cross-country sprints, cross-country relays, cross-country distance, halfpipe, slopestyle, ski-cross and snowboard-cross. Athletes represented more than 75 universities from every geographic region across the nation.

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For some of the coeds, it was spring break, while for others the week meant missing mid-term exams.

"I have been missing school since Monday," said Maura Pickett from the College of Idaho, who raced in giant slalom and slalom. "I love it here. It's fun to meet other people. I love going to the hot springs and shopping."

Pickett said a highlight of the trip to Sun Valley was seeing a baby moose and a herd of elk.

At the halfpipe, music was loud for skiers and snowboarders to summon their competitive strength to make a good show, even if it was just to make it down without a fall.

Angie Crum, from Kent State University in Ohio, said she had never snowboarded in a halfpipe before Saturday.

"I'm having so much fun," Crum said. "I have never been to a resort like this before. I have 150 vertical feet where I snowboard in Farmland, Ohio. I love it. This is spring break for me."

Crum is an architect major at Kent State and said she loved the Western-styled buildings in Ketchum.

"There is so much to see here," she said. "It's expensive but worth it. The people here are so nice."

For results of all of the USCSA competitions in the Sun Valley area, go to www.uscsa.com.

Sabina Dana Plasse: splasse@mtexpress.com




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