Photo: U.S. Ski & Snowboard
NorAm Finals slalom
The men and women persevered through soft snow conditions to complete the final slalom NorAms of the year. U.S. Ski Team athletes Zoe Zimmerman and Ben Ritchie were the slalom winners of the day as Ava Sunshine Jemison and Liam Wallace were crowned NorAm overall champions.
Zimmerman had the fastest run of the morning on the ladies side, leading Canada’s Sarah Bennett by 0.18 seconds. Those who started early in the field took advantage of the smooth conditions to lay down the fastest times. The second run produced the same story, those who started first and second had the fastest times on the run. Despite falling back into eighth in the second run, Zimmerman held her position for first overall. Behind in second was Canada’s Amelia Smart followed by Kristiane Bekkestad of Norway.
The men’s side was a near identical story with U.S. Ski Team members Ben Ritchie and Cooper Puckett taking the fastest first run times. U.S. teammate Bridger Gile was able to close the gap in his first run, moving up five positions for third. Ritchie extended his lead over Puckett by 0.82 seconds for a finishing time of 1:31.02. Puckett grabbed his third NorAm podium of the season with silver.
“I’m just so happy,” said Puckett. “It’s been a really up and down slalom season, I’ve been fast in training and sections of races but it hadn’t come together. For it to happen in both runs today with guys that I really look up to was amazing and I’m just really happy to be top 5 in the slalom overall going into next season.”
NorAm overall winners
Though Sunshine fell to seventh in Monday’s slalom and Wallace did not finish his race, both were awarded the overall NorAm skiers of the year, scoring a World Cup start in every discipline for next season.
It’s Sunshine’s first year as a U.S. Ski Team member, she landed on the NorAm podium five times across four disciplines. She also took away the alpine combined title, as well as ranked third in GS. Sunshine finished ahead of Canada’s Stefanie Fleckenstein with 950 points, just 42 points ahead. Sunshine’s teammate Allie Resnick rounded out in third for the overalls and captured the GS title the day before.
“I am super happy to end the NorAm season with a third place in the overall,” shared Resnick. “I am so happy for both Stef and Ava. They have shown speed in all disciplines this year from start to finish. Winning an overall is no easy feat, huge congratulations to Ava on World Cup starts in every event next year.”
Alpine Canada’s Wallace had a dominating season himself to secure the overall award, finishing with 1,098 points ahead of teammate Riley Seger with 870. Wallace finished in the top three standings in four of five disciplines and grabbed seven podiums throughout the season.
“First of all, congrats to Liam on an incredible season and earning his first overall,” said Seger. “I was super lucky to be surrounded by an incredible team of athletes and staff this year and we all pushed each other. I would also like to thank the MSU Bobcats for being such a great group and awalsy having my back, it feels good to end the season on a high.”
After a fourth place finish in Monday’s NorAm final slalom, Sam Mulligan surpassed teammate Kyle Alexander by one point to round out the overall winners in third.
With the NorAms complete, athletes will stay in Sugarloaf for three days of U.S. National Championship races to close out the season.