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Yotes ski team dominating the slopes

The College of Idaho ski team lives by the motto “Best Day Ever.” Every time the skiers are up on the mountain—whether it’s practice or a race—they aim to have fun while slicing s-turns through the snow.

Based on the Yotes’ success this season, you could say the squad is having the “Best Year Ever.”

The C of I men’s and women’s teams wrapped up championships in the Northwest Collegiate Ski Conference for the second straight year, and they did so before the final weekend of competition. Those titles join a crammed trophy case—the women have captured the team title in 11 of the last 14 seasons, with the men winning nine in the same span.

“I definitely think we have a deep talent pool, and it really just depends on the day which one of us is going to come out on top,” said sophomore Mary Totten, who won took home a giant slalom win this season. “It’s been really awesome that we’ve been able to take home the team title as well as the individual titles.”

Totten and teammates Elyse Burandt and Anna Granhed won a combined seven out of the eight races during the season, with Granhed taking home the NWCSC individual title. On the men’s side, Swedish freshmen Anton Waller and William Franzen swept the top two spots in every race, with Waller being named the NWCSC men's skier of the year.

“It’s fun to keep pushing each other,” Franzen said of the friendly team rivalry.

The recent success is nothing new for the C of I ski team. The program has captured 28 U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association team titles, and 21 individual championships since 1979—a big reason the College recently was named among “America’s Best Colleges for Skiing and Snowboarding” by the website BestColleges.com.

And this year, with the addition of 10 freshmen (five men and five women), the ski team boasts the largest, deepest roster in recent memory. Freshman Beth Mixon, of Hood River, Ore., was encouraged to attend C of I by her high school ski coach, who skied at the College. 

“When I visited, the ski team seemed really cool and I thought it’d be a fun place,” Mixon said.

Team racing has been a new experience for Mixon, whose high school team consisted of three people. But she’s enjoyed the fun-loving group and her time on the slopes. One highlight was the first race of the season, when she competed at her home mountain of Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon. With her family in attendance, Mixon had one of her best races.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” said assistant coach Zach Shenk. “This is the biggest team I’ve ever been a part of…the dynamic this team has is something I haven’t seen since I’ve been here. The camaraderie is incredible—everybody is really, really close.”

Shenk transitioned into coaching this year after graduating from the C of I last spring. The former NWCSC Skier of the Year has learned the more difficult side of collegiate skiing, focusing his attention on course setup, travel plans, and being the first one on the hill and the last one off in order to make sure his student-athletes have the best possible experience.

But it’s all worth it to watch each Yote skier have the “Best Day Ever” every weekend.

“We’re determined, we’re having fun, and we’re sending it—as we like to put it,” Shenk said.

The C of I ski team will compete at the USCSA Western Regionals Feb. 18-20 at Red Lodge Mountain in Montana in hopes of returning to the USCSA Nationals Championships, being held March 7-12 in Lake Placid, New York. For the latest news and updates on the C of I ski team, contact head coach Ron Bonneau at [email protected] or visit yoteathletics.com.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.

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