Cook shows the true Olympic spirit
The Olympic Creed. “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part. Just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” Baron De Coubertin.
Mammoth’s Stacey Cook has been named to four Winter Olympic teams, but making the team this year was unquestionably the most difficult. As the 2017-2018 season moved along, it became clear that Cook didn’t have a guaranteed spot to what would hopefully be her fourth Olympics. When many athletes might give in to fate, Cook just pushed harder. She dealt with training runs being canceled, and races being postponed or moved. By the time the last World Cup downhill was finished there had only been four weekends of racing in which to make the team.
The thirty-three year old speed skier started out the season being one of the top American women in downhill, but as the season progressed she saw her finish position drop down with some of the younger U.S. women coming in ahead of her. Happily she still held a high enough place amongst her teammates, and on Jan. 24 when the official Team USA roster was released Cook’s name was on the list. She was going to Pyeongchang. Later that day Cook described her thoughts via social media writing, “Each Olympic cycle has been so different from the others, each filled with different successes, challenges, stages of life, people, continents, and experiences. Each has been special for their own reason and sometimes difficult, painful, and exhausting. The last four years have been some of the most passionate and fun years I have ever had, but at the same time they have seemed like a constant fight, nothing coming naturally, everything coming down to talking myself into putting my heart and body on the line, doubters ever increasing, and age setting in. THAT is what makes this Olympic selection so special to me. I have fought my heart out to make this team and I am very excited to head to Korea and make this experience special in its unique way. So proud to represent Team USA in Pyeongchang. So proud to be a four-time Olympian. So proud to represent those who don’t give up, work hard to be better, and believe. So proud to walk next to my amazing teammates and friends who have pushed me beyond what I thought possible (and also made it really tough to get named to this team!!).”
However, the elation of making the team was shot lived. On Feb. 4, Cook hit a major bump on her road to the Olympics. Cook was racing at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany in the final downhill before the Olympics, when she went off course and crashed violently into the protective fencing. The following day Cook wrote, “There’s a weird kind of confidence you can take from doing an 80+ MPH body slam into a wall followed by a face bashing into the ice. It’s knowing that I can take a hit and carry on, knowing I am strong, and knowing that I am physically and mentally ready for the biggest challenges. I’ve learned from past Olympics not to let circumstances dictate outcomes. I’m on my way to Korea with a sweet black eye and some sore lower legs but am confident in my therapy program to get me on snow soon and enjoying every aspect of the Olympic experience. I am oh so thankful for my protective gear that I believe allowed me to defy what seems possible and walk away from this one.”
Television coverage showed a smiling Cook walking proudly in the Opening Ceremonies at Pyeongchang. But, a few days later Cook confided to friends and fans what was really going on, “I’m so thankful for all the Team USA staff/doctors/physios who have been so supportive and working tirelessly to help me get back out skiing again. My legs are structurally solid but there’s an amount of trauma that comes with big crashes. Putting my boots back on hurt, a lot, and I’m having to quickly learn to ski with a pain threshold I never have had before on skis. I know this fight will make me stronger and I try to embrace the journey and learn everyday but there are moments like this one that have me bent over in pain and frankly aren’t that much fun. The Olympic spirit is a strong force though… I feel it and am determined to be ready to go by race day with all the pain, tears, and fears left behind.” Fast forward to Feb. 16 and Cook was really cutting it close with the time line to be ready to race, but she got in the course and proceeded down for her first training run. And then she came back and did it again the next day. Later that day her physical therapist Mammoth Hospital’s Sara Chavez, who is working with the team in South Korea, wrote, “Today I got the full PyeongChang Olympic experience! Finally! Thank you Stacey for making this such a rewarding experience. Glad we got you back on skis and it’s been an honor to work with you and get to know you. You rock my friend!”
On Monday, Cook was listed as the second starter sandwiched between teammates Lindsay Vonn and Mikaela Shiffren for the third downhill training run. But, sadly 30 minutes before she was scheduled to push out of the start Cook used her social media site to reveal she wouldn’t be racing. “While I was extremely lucky to walk away from crashing hard just days before the Olympics started, walking actually hasn’t been all that easy.” Cook confessed to having high ankle sprains in both legs, an ever-evolving compartment syndrome issue in both legs, a sometimes debilitating nerve pain in her right leg, and the swelling, bruising, and tissue damage that accompanies all of that. She noted that, “The docs, physios, and I have tried everything possible to manage the pain enough to ski. I got in the start gate of the training run yesterday and tried to push past the pain, tried to ignore the instincts to quit, tried to be super-human when I know all to well that that I am rather ordinary. I tried. I’m proud of trying and proud of fighting while simultaneously being crushed. My selfish side so badly wanted a physical memento of all the effort I have poured into this sport for decades. My realistic side knows that I did everything, for so long, that I could to achieve that. My Olympian side says I have accomplished everything this great event stands for and that’s all that really matters.” Although Cook won’t be racing in PyeongChang, she continues to show us the true Olympic Spirit promising, “Tomorrow I’ll be the number one super fan of an amazing team racing in the Olympic DH. Good luck girls!!!” https://data.fis-ski.com/dynamic/event-details.html?event_id=41274&cal_suchsector=AL
Future Olympians compete in annual Jeff Todd race On Saturday, Feb. 17, forty-eight possible future Olympians, also known as Mighty Mites, torn down Fascination in a dual style race with their best time counting. The mini racers were there to honor the late Jeff Todd, who has been credited with starting the Mammoth Mountain Mighty Mite program.
Todd a resident of Mammoth for over 30 years held many jobs in the area. He started out working for MMSA night crew and eventually worked his way up to MMST race coach. In addition to starting the Mighty Mite program he also helped run the Jr. Village Championships and he was instrumental in producing many other exciting programs that expanded ski racing for the youth of Mammoth and the Far West Skiing. Each year FW Skiing honors an athlete with the Jeff Todd Sportsmanship Award. His “indomitable spirit, relentless energy, riotous wit and extraordinary courage” is celebrated annually with the MMSST Mighty Mite Jeff Todd race.
Top three finishers in the race are as follows: 06F: 1 Flora Wheeler, 2 Lily McConnell, 3 Ashley Bien; 06M: 1 Noah Geffre, 2 Sandor Jovanovic, 3 Lauden Meade-Sofield; 07F: 1 Charlotte Campbell, 2 Resi Griffith, 3 Madeline Sewell; 07M: 1 Hayden Ledesma, 2 Andre Gazarian, 3 Gabriel Vanderhurst; 08F: 1 Neko Morando, 2 Rowan Monte, 3 Tessa Rozanski; 08M: 1 Marco Condon, 2 Garrett Moberly, and 3 Ryan McConnell.
Big Mountain Comp at Squaw Valley Charger Big Mountain Comp coaches recently wrote, “kids had a blast at Squaw for the Tahoe Junior Freestyle Series (TJFS) stop two. They competed remarkably well especially considering all the variables and the fact that our athletes were the only ones that hadn’t skied the venue days prior. We had seven Charger athletes compete with one tenth place finish…out of 57 athletes in the division.”
At the Squaw Valley contest on Feb. 9-11, MMSST athlete Kai Bir was 26th in the Male 12-14 division and then he came back to take 10th. Teammate Cian Smith took 45th and 47th in the same division. In the Male 15-18 division Noah Smith was 33rd; Alessandro DeFelice 34th; and Carson Dorough 41st. Skyler Low and Caity Rahmeyer competed in the Female 15-18 class. Low was 13th both days, while Rahmeyer was 16th and then came back to take 15th.
According to the TJFS website, “The Tahoe Junior Freeride Series originated in 2007 as a friendly big mountain competition between Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl ski teams. It has grown into a four stop regional series that boasts over 270 competitors. Each comp has a three-day format with every competitor skiing/riding two runs over three days. There are no cuts after the first day. Competitors can earn points from TJFS comps toward national IFSA ranking.” https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1tcAn-dJ97OmefSDYp-3s89GuBK-_vDgD
MHS ALPINE AND SNOWBOARD TEAMS
Athletes Qualify for CNISSF Championships After competing in six high school races (three slalom and three GS) 27 Mammoth High School athletes qualified for the CNISSF Championships to be held March 5-8 at Mammoth Mountain. MHS alpine coach, Connie Moyer explained the athletes’ points “were calculated using the rules stated in the bi-laws for the CNISSF League. It is a bit complicated, but for each team you get your top three competitors to qualify. In addition, for each team competing we get the athletes from the top positions. So that means that for each discipline, nine athletes qualify since we have three teams competing with the exception of the girl’s snowboarding events where only RIM and Mammoth fielded full teams of three (the top six then qualify, since there were two teams competing). To score the athletes we used the best two of the three races (as also stated in the bi-laws).
The following athletes qualified for Championships: Girls Skiers GS, SL: Mallory Podosin, Keely Podosin, Cary Walker, Hallie Clute, Madison Jayne, Melanie Moyer, Sloane Ramras GS only: Devon Cole, Audrey Sandvigen, SL only: Adi Witherill, Ruby Walker Boys Skier GS, SL: Benny Wolfe, Aidan LeFrancois, Sean Walker, Mason Forsythe, Julian Leeds, Seth Gacho GS only: Otto Gubser Girls Snowboard GS, SL: Tyler Brooking, Janelle Weinert, Hannah Goodwin Boys Snowboard GS, SL: Kris Martin, Nick Hildebrand, Andrew Grey, Jacob Fulton, Dylan VanKampen, Cayden Wilson, GS only (SL Alternate 2) SL only: Evan Hilliard. Alternates: Olivia Catarossi, GS Alternate 1; Cassidy Moyer, GS Alternate 2; Billy McDaniel, GS Alternate 1; Joshua Krogstie SL Alternate 1
MHS NORDIC TEAM
Nordic CNISSF State Championships CNISSF State Championships for High School Nordic skiers was held Feb. 16 at the Auburn Ski Club Training Center. Shannon Bagshaw, mother of Varsity team member, Meaghan Thompson gave, “A quick run down” of the event saying, “Finals this year was an interval start Skiathlon where racers ski both classic and skate disciplines in one continuous race with a change of skis. The course was 3 laps of a 2.25 km loop with steep climbs and downhills to challenge everyone. The first lap was a classic lap, then racers came into transition bays where coaches lay out skate skis and poles and racers quickly change equipment for the final 4.5 km of skate technique. Team standings for the season, given our small team size, were a very respectable fifth for the boys and fourth for the girls.”
Varsity Girls standings: Meaghan Thompson, fifth; Alexia Craven 17th; Robin Romagnino 18th.Varsity Boys: Jared Mahler, sixth; Lucas Strazzere 25th. Open Girls (JV): Lizetta Dardenne-Ankringa, first; Emma Dardenne-Ankringa, second. Open Boys (JV): Tanner Bissonette 18th. http://farwestnordic.org/racing/race-results/2017-2018/
MORE ALUMNI NEWS
Underkoffler captures NWCSC crown Former MMSST standout Lucas Underkoffler, racing for College of Idaho, won his third-straight Northwest Collegiate Ski Conference qualifier on Feb. 3. The senior had the second-fastest times in each of the two runs, but his combined time of 1:20.46 was a half-second faster than Washington State’s Reid Reininger (1:20.93) and nearly two seconds clear of Washington’s Grant Duffy (1:22.16). Underkoffler recorded his fifth-straight top-four finish for the Coyotes, placing third with a two-run time of 1:19.96.
On Feb. 10 the NWCSC closed out their regular-season with slalom races on Grouse Mountain, outside Vancouver, B.C. Underkoffler placed second in both of the Northwest Collegiate Ski Conference qualifiers, securing the NWCSC individual title and helping the College of Idaho to their third NWCSC team championship in the last four years. Combining the final two slalom races into one day, the Yotes placed second in the morning race before dominating the field in the afternoon set of runs to claim the overall team championship. Underkoffler had the fastest first run of the morning session, but got clipped at the line by 15-hundredths of a second for the gold by University of Idaho’s Boomer Vuori (1:26.32). Later in the day, the Yotes placed three in the Top-10 to earn the team victory with Underkoffler in second (1:29.32).
Underkoffler earned his fourth-straight All-NWCSC selection. C of I takes next weekend off in preparation for the USCSA Western Regionals, at Snow King Resort in Jackson, Wyo. http://yoteathletics.com/schedule.aspx?path=mski
Former MMSST skiers represent top colleges in the West at USCSA Regionals While Undelkoffler was taking the week off, a number of his former MMSST teammates returned to their home mountain on Saturday, Feb. 17 to compete in their USCSA Regional races. Unfortunately, on Sunday the slalom portion of the event was canceled due to extremely high winds and the regionals for USCSA Nationals had to be based solely on the GS race.
In the women’s GS race Eva Yguico, racing for UCLA was sixth after the first run, while Maia Bickert (CAL) was just .01 behind Yguico. Yguico held on for her second run and moved up one place to take fifth overall, with the remaining racers in the top-six all members of the Sierra Nevada College team. Bickert ended up in seventh and Chelsea Foulke (CAL) was 14th. On the men’s side Austin Gumins (USC) was seventh, Ryan Foulke (Stanford) ninth, Max Ziontz (UCSB) 11th, Jimmy Wehsener (CAL) 17th, Liam Carrigan (UCLA) and Logan DeAngelis (UC Davis) also competed.
The USCSA is the sports federation for collegiate team ski racing and snowboarding in America. It is made up of over 175 member colleges and universities. It holds competitions across 11 conferences in the United States, culminating in six Regional Competitions and the USCSA National Championships in March of each year. Teams qualify from the six Regions at Regional Championships and move on to competition at the National Championships. The 40th Annual USCSA National Championships will be held March 4-10th, 2018 at Lake Placid, NY. http://www.live-timing.com/race2.php?r=184995
Jeff Todd Race photos by Susan Morning/Magic Memories
Nordic CNISSF State Championships (Photos courtesy of Shannon Bagshaw)