For the second straight year, Oregon State University-Cascades has had representation at alpine ski nationals.
OSU-Cascades athletes Nolan King, vice president of OSU-Cascades club sports, and Sierra Foster, president of OSU-Cascades club sports competed at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association’s national championship in Lake Placid, New York from March 11-15.
“Lake Placid was a crazy experience,” said King. “I got to hang out with coach Dan Simoneau and hear all his Olympic experiences, met teams from all over the nation, and race on courses that were used for the 1932 and 1980 olympics.”
King placed 22nd in all the races combined, and Foster placed 4th in the combined races, after driving straight from Junior Nationals in Stowe.
“It was great to see where they train on over on the east coast, because it is different than what we train on in Central Oregon,” Foster said.
This was King’s first time at nationals and Foster’s second. Last year, Foster finished fourth in the 8.5k Classic race and earned All American honors.
The two athletes trained six days a week for over three months in preparation before nationals.
“I gained a ton of experience and refined my abilities,” King said, “I plan to train extensively through this summer in order to be more prepared for next year. I hope to be in the top 15 next year.”
History of the team
Since its start last year, the OSU-Cascades ski team has more than doubled. Foster was the lone nordic skier the first year the team started.
“The team has grown incredibly, it is exciting and inspiring,” Foster said.
This year, there are four nordic and four alpine skiers on the team compared to one each last year.
In 2012-13 OSU-Cascades started offering four club sports; cyclocross, mountain biking, nordic and alpine skiing, according to Bruce Petersen, coordinator of internships, employment and alumni relations at OSU-Cascades.
“When we were looking at sports to offer, skiing shot to the top,” Petersen said. “With a sports team also comes a need to have facilities where students can practice and train. ”
Because of the need for facilities and the associated costs, the decision of which sports to offer was intentional, according to Petersen.
“For these sports, we have world class facilities right out the back door,” Petersen said. “We felt we would have a competitive advantage in these sports. They are already in the community and the natural facilities are already there and really incredible. Those are natural parts of what community is and supports.”
Foster agrees that the locale training scene is an advantage.
“We have the mountain right here to train on and a community willing to build competitive athletes,” Foster said.
The clubs sports teams could be an attractive factor to students, Petersen said.
“We have students saying the ski team was a reason to come to OSU-Cascades,” Petersen said. “The fact we have a ski team here will help show students that skiing is something that can be a part of college life.”
Coaching for the OSU-Cascades club teams comes from Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation.
“It is a wonderful privilege to have this partnership with MBSEF so our students can get the level of coaching they currently do,” Petersen said. “We are not going to go hire a coach but we can get that through partnerships.”
Foster hopes the OSU-Cascades club sports program will be recognized as a top competitor in future national competitions.
“I would like to see the program get to the point where we have a very strong competitive ability but can still let any and everybody in,” Foster said.
King believes that further in the future the ski team could grow into a NCAA sport with division-one athletes.
“Whether or not this will ever happen is not up to me, but in my opinion Bend is the perfect place for OSU to grow its athletics program,” King said. “I believe that the OSU-Cascades ski team has a vast amount of potential.”
The four club sports currently offered by OSU-Cascades are only the “foundation” for sports at the school, according to Petersen.
“The sports teams really add to the campus college environment where people are pulling for classmates and friends who are on the team,” Petersen said.