Cue the music: Truckee-Tahoe athletes pick up Olympic nominations
Athletes from across the globe will make their way into the National Stadium in Beijing, China, next month for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.
Among the roughly 200 members of Team USA entering the stadium on Feb. 4 will be athletes representing Truckee, Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas.
From decorated gold medalists like South Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson and Reno’s David Wise, to those making Olympic debuts like Team Palisades Tahoe skier Keely Cashman, the Tahoe region will be well represented when the Olympic flame is ignited next month.
ALPINE RACERS HIT STRIDE
While U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s official announcement for the Olympic alpine team has yet to be made, several local skiers have met criteria to compete in Beijing.
Team Palisades Tahoe veteran Travis Ganong is slated to make his second Olympic appearance, and is coming off a World Cup season in which the 33 year old has posted a trio of top-10 finishes, including finishing third place last month in super-G at Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Ganong competed in the 2014 Olympics in Russia, but was sidelined in 2018 after suffering a torn ACL during a World Cup event in Bormio, Italy.
Also making a second Olympic appearance will be Truckee’s Bryce Bennett. The 6-foot-7-inch downhiller has had a career year on the World Cup scene, claiming his first career win in downhill last month.
“It’s everything I thought it would be,” said Bennett on the win. “I’ve been skiing poorly through the last few races, and here I felt really good and I just let it flow.”
Since notching his first career World Cup win, Bennett has gone on to claim a seventh place finish at last week’s downhill event in Wengen, Switzerland.
Bennett competed in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, where he took 16th place in downhill and was 17th in combined.
Team Palisades Tahoe will also be represented on the slopes by Keely Cashman, 22. The Strawberry, California, skier — who already owns national and junior championships — will make her Olympic debut next month after posting a season-best 23rd place in super-G at Sunday’s World Cup race in Zauchensee, Austria.
Another Team Palisades Tahoe representative, Nina O’Brien, 24, will also be making her Olympic debut.
O’Brien opened the World Cup season with a ninth-place finish in giant slalom, and after some struggles in races at the end of December and beginning of January, has bounced back to post back-to-back top-25 finishes in slalom.
Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy’s Luke Winters has also met criteria to be named to his first Olympic team. Winters, 24, is coming off a career-best 10th place in slalom racing.
“It feels good to put two together, I haven’t done that much in my career so far,” said Winters on putting together a pair of solid runs earlier this month in Adelboden, Switzerland.
Alpine athletes aren’t officially on the team until the program’s governing body makes a formal announcement, which is expected to be made later today.
LOCALS NAMED TO NORDIC TEAM
On Thursday, U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced its official nominations to the cross-country team.
Highlighting the list are a pair of local athletes making their Olympic debuts, JC Schoonmaker and Hannah Halvorsen.
North Tahoe’s Schoonmaker, 21, has had a solid year on the World Cup scene with a pair of top-10 finishes, and recently captured a national title at Soldier Hallow, Utah.
Halvorsen, 23, posted a career-best seventh place at a World Cup event in Dresden, Germany.
The two join a team that includes 2018 Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins.
In other disciplines, Reno’s two-time gold medalist in men’s freeski halfpipe, David Wise, is slated to return to completion for a third Olympics.
South Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson will also look for a third straight Olympic gold when she competes in women’s slopestyle.
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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