Four to watch in Bozeman
Skiers have legitimate chance of winning both individual titles
The 2012 NC Skiing Championships begin on Wednesday in Bozeman, Mont., and a select number of the country's top Alpine and Nordic student-athletes pose a serious threat in both contested events for each discipline. While it is rare for a national champion to sweep both victories, here are four skiers who have a legitimate shot and claiming two individual titles in the days to come.
As a rookie at last year's championships, Ryley became the only alpine skier -- male or female -- to earn double first-team All-American honors for her pair of fourth-place finishes. She arrives in Montana fresh off back-to-back victories at the EISA Championships in both slalom and giant slalom, adding to her four other FIS-UNI race podiums this season. The top step is reachable in both championship races for this Toronto native.
Although debuting in his first national championships and following up a tough run at regionals, Lysdahl has six podium appearances in FIS-UNI races this season and two at the Nor-Am level as well. His victory and stellar results even in the tricky conditions in Alaska prove that this Norwegian has the potential to do damage on the trails of Bridger Bowl. Make way for the rookie.
Long-time veteran and returning national champion in the 5k freestyle, Graefnings spent the early part of the season training and racing in her native Sweden. Since showing up on the RMISA circuit after missing the first four races, she still managed to notch three victories and rack up five podium performances in only six races. Much like Vermont's Ryley, Graefnings arrives in Montana as the double winner from regional championships, held at the same venue as nationals.
Johnson took last year off from school to train and compete full-time, and his hard work has certainly paid off. While he has not won every collegiate contest he entered this season, it sure seems that way. Six total race victories including two at EISA Championships conclusively demonstrate that this Middkid is used to winning. In this Alaska native's final campaign as a college athlete, expect to see mountains move and heads turn.