Lake Placid, New York was home to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Last weekend, it was home to the United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association National Championships. And for The College of Idaho ski team, it was home away from home.
Winning two individual national championships and one team title among multiple podium finishes, the Yotes capped a stellar season on the slopes by bringing back suitcases full of hardware. It all cycles back to the motto of coach Ron Bonneau, who urges his skiers to have the “best day ever.” Every time the team is on the mountain—whether it is practice or nationals—the Yotes aim to have fun.
“The success on the hill strictly translates back to the dynamic of the team,” Bonneau said. “If you have a great team concept and some good team players, it relates right back to the results and puts us on the podium.”
The national titles arrived by way of freshmen Anton Waller and Anna Granhed, who came to the C of I this year from their native Sweden.
“I don’t think any of us expected it,” Waller said. “It feels amazing.”
Waller kicked off the men’s slalom by posting the fastest first run of the day. The day before, he’d grabbed the bronze in men’s skier cross. As he waited to go last for his second and final run, nerves started to build. It didn’t help that the course was deteriorating due to the warm, 60-degree temperatures.
When he crossed the finish line, Waller had no idea if he’d won. His run didn’t feel fast. He didn’t know how the skiers in front of him had performed. But then, over the loudspeaker, the announcement rang out: Waller was the new slalom national champion.
“That feeling was just, amazing,” said Waller, who soon was swarmed by teammates and his dad to celebrate the moment.
Later that day, Granhed would claim the gold in skier cross, an event she’d never competed in before.
“I’m even happier about my third-place in slalom, but it was fun to try something new,” said Granhed, who captured bronze in slalom the day before.
Granhed’s win made it back-to-back titles in women’s skier cross for the C of I, which has won the event thrice since 2011. With her win and teammate Marty Totten’s fourth-place finish, the Yotes also claimed the women’s team national championship in skier cross.
In addition to winning three national titles, the Yotes posted four team podium finishes on the men’s side by taking second in the dual slalom and third in giant slalom, slalom, and alpine combined. Overall, it was one of the best C of I performances since Bonneau took over as head coach in 1990.
And the plan for next year?
“To continue as we did this year—we had a great season and a great run at nationals,” Granhed said.
“Try to do it even better next year, maybe?” Waller said. “I don’t even know if that’s possible.”
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.