Rocky Mountain College skiers sweep slalom

WILMINGTON – Although it didn’t happen the way he would have preferred, Erik Hogbom finally got the best of his older brother Nils on the ski hill.

Competing Friday in the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard National Championships at Whiteface Mountain, Erik Hogbom claimed the men’s title in the slalom to lead a sweep of the event for Rocky Mountain College.

Hogbom, a freshman at the college located in Billings, Mont. stood in second place behind his older brother after the first of two runs. Then, after jumping into first place on his second trip down the Boreen slalom trail, he looked up the mountain and watched as Nils caught a gate and was knocked off course.

Aided by the misfortune of his brother, a sophomore, Erik won the race with runs of 49.52 and 46.14 seconds and a 1:35.67 total.

“In one way I was sad, but hey, I have to be happy,” Erik said. “Nils is a much faster skier than me. We started racing together when we were 7 or 8, and I never beat him.

“It was tough seeing my brother straddle a gate, but ultimately that got me the win,” Erik added. “I wasn’t expecting to win. If my brother finished ahead of me, I would have been perfectly happy standing second on the podium. This is probably the biggest win I’ve ever had.”

Although Nils got knocked off course, he will still be leaving Lake Placid this week as a champion. In fact, both Nils and Erik have earned two titles at the USCSA National championships. On Friday, they won the team slalom championship along with their fellow Battlin’ Bears skiers, and Nils also claimed the men’s giant slalom individual title at Whiteface on Wednesday.

“If anyone is going to beat me, I’m glad it was my brother,” Nils said. “My first run was good, I had a chance to win, but I straddled a gate and that was it. That happens in skiing.

“More importantly, it looks like we won the team championship,” Nils added. “We only had two skiers finish in the GS, so we really wanted to come back today and win as a team.”

A year ago at the USCSA National Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho, Nils Hogbom won both the men’s slalom and giant slalom titles, which also gave him the combined crown. The brothers, who are from Sweden and have skied at the FIS level, had another Rocky Mountain College teammate ski to victory Friday as Frida Svedberg won the women’s slalom contest.

Svedberg, a Battlin’ Bears freshman who also hails from Sweden, dominated the race and won by more than two seconds. She put down runs of 46.63 and 49.87 seconds for a winning 1:36.50 combined time. Stina Sollander of Sierra Nevada College was second, and her teammate Marie-Theres Noichl finished in third place.

The Sierra Nevada College Eagles won the women’s team title in the slalom, edging out the Battlin’ Bears by less than a second.

Finlay Neeson of Sierra Nevada College placed second in the men’s slalom with a 1:36.24 combined time. Carter Dowd of Babson College was third in 1:38.16.

Friday’s other USCSA championship events included women’s ski-and snowboard cross competitions and a 15-kilometer classic mass start cross country race.

In the ski-cross, Eleanor Tansley of the College of Idaho placed first, Katie Souza of Sierra Nevada College was runner-up and the University of Vermont’s Tamara Razinger finished third. Sierra Nevada claimed the team title.

In the women’s snowboard cross, Ashley Vander Meer of Sierra Nevada was first, McKinley Carbone of the College of Idaho placed second and Ohio State’s Kelly McCary rounded out the podium in third.

The men’s 15k classic cross country race at Mount Van Hoevenberg featured a rare tie for first place as Jake Brown of St. Olaf College and Scott Johanik of the College of Saint Scholastica won with identical finish times of 51 minutes, 17.65 seconds. Cornell University’s Benjamin Anderson placed third in 53:13.90.

Cornell also won the men’s team title in the race.

In the women’s race, the University of Wyoming swept the top two spots, with Elise Sulser finishing first in 1:00.15 and Sierra Jech claiming second in 1:00.46. CMU’s Mira Hopkins was third in 1:02.18. Wyoming also won the women’s team title.

The 36th USCSA National Championships wrap up their week-long run in Lake Placid today with more alpine skiing at Whiteface Mountain and team sprint cross country racing at Mount Van Hoevenberg.