CASTLETON, Vt. – After posting a clean sweep of top finishes at the Eastern Regional Championships, as well as a sixth-overall combined finish at the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships in 2016, the Castleton women's alpine skiing team looks remain among the nation's best in 2017.
Chris Eder enters his 14th year at the helm of the Spartans, leading Castleton to three straight second-place finishes at the Regional Championships before taking the top spot in the East last season.
The Spartans have a veteran team this season with a pair of seniors, six juniors, six sophomores and just one freshman on the roster. Having an experienced roster should bode well for the Spartans as 14 members have a year of experience under their belts, but the team did lose a handful of key racers from last year's squad.
Looking to lead the team will be sophomore standout Linn Ljungemo, who became the first Castleton women's skier to claim two All-America honors at the USCSA National Championships in 2016. Ljungemo captured 12th place finishes in the slalom and the combined standings to bring home the honors and help the Spartans to a seventh-place finish. She also finished second overall at the Eastern Regional Championships in the slalom, and finished second in the NCAA Regional slalom event. She was one of the team's top skiers as a rookie a season ago, finishing first or second on the team in seven races.
Other sophomores returning for the Spartans are Megan O'Shea and Kirsten Kruk. O'Shea notched a 11th-place finish in the slalom at Pat's Peak a season ago, as well as a 24th place finish at West Mountain in the giant slalom. Kruk helped the Spartans clinch the Eastern Regional Championship in 2016, and posted multiple top-25 finishes in the slalom as a freshman.
Other Spartans looking to fill the void of those that graduated a season ago include Taylor Benson, Nadine Downing, Sabrina Easton, Madeline Haggerty, Caitlin Houston, Keara Kresser, Elise Luce, Kylie Mackie, Lauren Reck, Lauren Sheehan and Megan Wood.
Castleton has 10 regular-season races on the schedule this year, split evenly between five slalom races and five giant slalom races. The team heads to New York back-to-back weekends to close out January at West Mountain and Whiteface before closing out the regular season with back-to-back races in New Hampshire in February at Crotched Mountain and Blackwater. The Eastern Regional Championships will be held at West Mountain in Queensbury, N.Y., and the USCSA National Championships will be in Bend, Ore., should the squad qualify for the event.