Though you may not have heard of them, the Montana State University alpine ski team is one of the many successful sports teams on campus. Montana State is one of just a handful of schools across the nation to sponsor alpine skiing, but for the schools that compete, the talent pool is deep, and MSU is no exception. Boasting a strong core of young athletes mixed with more experienced veterans, the Bobcat’s building success doesn’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon. The alpine season, while short, is fast paced, and the team competes in four invitationals followed by two championships in a two month season.
Alpine skiing, as opposed to nordic (cross country) skiing, involves racing down the mountain as fast as possible while going around gates (those red and blue poles you might see when you’re up at Bridger or Big Sky). The race is not done all at once like a car race, but with individual time trials where each participant races against the clock to earn the fastest time.
Over 30 men and women race for the Bobcats between the nordic and alpine racing teams, including four Bozeman natives. The other athletes come from all over the skiing world, including Norway, Sweden, Canada and Austria, not to mention Alaska, Colorado and California.
The MSU Ski Team trains at Big Sky Resort, but home meets are few and far between.The team competes all over the United States, leading to a lot of long road trips and not much hometown recognition. Last season at the NCAA Championships in Park City, Utah, the MSU men finished ninth in the nation and the women finished in sixth place. This season, the alpine teams, led by young racers like sophomore David Neuhauser, freshman Garret Driller and freshman Benedicte Lyche continue to improve at each competition but are still looking to put it all together for a breakthrough performance.
On Monday, Feb. 23, both the alpine and nordic teams head to Anchorage to compete in the University of Alaska-Anchorage Invitational in their fourth NCAA competition of the year. The team will stay there and compete later that week in the West Regional Championships, also held in Anchorage. The athletes who qualify (last year the entire team did) will move on to race March 11-14 in the NCAA Championships, to be held in Lake Placid, New York.