Former Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Freestyle ski teamer Sophia Schwartz, 22, has won her first-ever U.S. Championship title, in women’s dual moguls Saturday, March 30 at Heavenly, Ca.
Competing among 48 women at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships, Steamboat Springs (Co.) Winter Sports Club racer Schwartz did a back full-up top and a back lay in her bottom air to win gold over Mikaela Mathews of Frisco, Co.
Schwartz, a SVSEF racer from 2001-07, said, “I’ve been to a few National Championships before and I’ve never podiumed so to have this win means a lot. It’s the most fun event of the year, and with such a stacked field it’s something I’m proud of and something I’ve been working towards for a while. I couldn’t be happier.”
Last year during nationals at Stratton Mountain, Vt., Schwartz just missed the dual moguls podium in fourth place.
She has done well this season, starting off with a dual moguls victory Dec. 22 in a FIS race at Copper Mountain, Co. She also won a pair of Nor-Am single moguls events at Telluride, Co. and Apex Resort, British Columbia, Canada.
Named to the 2007 U.S. Ski Team, Schwartz attended a boarding school in New Hampshire and was a member of the Waterville Valley Black & Black Trail Smashers Ski Educational Foundation. She won the 2006 USSA Junior Olympics in women’s halfpipe.
Last weekend, an enthusiastic crowd of national fans, skiers’ families and Lake Tahoe locals turned up at the Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort's California Lodge to watch some of the best skiers in the world compete on the world-famous Gunbarrel Mogul Run.
Saturday was a typically beautiful bluebird Lake Tahoe, day, with the frozen course softening throughout the day. Clouds arrived in the afternoon. Really big jumps lent to big crashes, upsets and an all-around exciting competition.
In Friday’s single moguls final at Heavenly, Schwartz finished fourth of 51 women behind repeat national champion Heather McPhie of Bozeman, Mt. In that event McPhie did a layout on her top air with her traditional D spin on the bottom—huge air and a perfect landing.
Other SVSEF or former SVSEF women earning their wings in duals were:
24—Morgan Shaver. 27—Aunika Phillips. 32—Alysha Herich. 44—Renee Shapiro. The placings in single moguls were: 15—Phillips. 34—Shaver. 39—Herich. 42—Shapiro.
Men’s national champions were Joe Discoe of Telluride, Col in dual moguls for his third career title, and Bradley Wilson of Butte, Mt. singles.
SVSEF or former SVSEF men out of 58 in national duals:
14—Nic Hanscom. 19—Austin Bourret. 38—Zac Maricich Siele. 50—RJ Bracken. And placers out of 64 starters in Friday’s singles were: 9—Bourret. 33—Maricich Siele. 40—Hanscom. 43—Shane Cordeau.
For his win, Discoe threw a D-spin in his top air and a backflip on his bottom air.
Discoe said, “Pure strength was what got me through today. It wasn’t very pretty skiing but I made it down just barely. There is some great competition here and to walk away with the win is something I’m definitely proud of.”
Local South Lake Tahoe favorite Sho Kashima, who learned to ski in the Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort Ski School, took silver along with Mikaela Mathews in the duals.
Kashima said, “Two podiums here at my home mountain is pretty incredible. I didn’t have a full season coming back from injury and this is proof that when I trust my skiing good things will happen. To feel the support here from everyone I grew up with makes me want to pull out some good results for them, and I’m so happy I was able to do that twice for them.”
Dylan Walczyk from Breckenridge, Co. and defending U.S. champion K.C. Oakley from Piedmont, Ca. earned bronze medals. Oakley had to settle for bronze after she lost control out of her top air and skied into Mathews’ line.
World Cup winner Hannah Kearney from Norwich, Vt. and teammate McPhie didn’t compete in the dual moguls event.
Brothers Bradley and Bryon Wilson from Montana also chose not to compete after Bradley took his first U.S. Championship title in the singles moguls on Friday.