BILLINGS – If there’s one sport that operates like clockwork at Rocky Mountain College, it’s ski racing.
When the United State Collegiate Ski Association Championships open Tuesday in Jackson Hole, Rocky’s men will be chasing a fourth straight alpine title as the women race for a three-peat.
Both teams showcase a rich international flavor including their most dominant seniors. France’s Emeline LaFarge and Andraz Reich-Poligdich from Slovenia. And their circumstances on arriving at RMC sound pretty similar.
“My main goal was to be professional, ski (in the) world cup,” Reich-Pogladic said. “But then some difference circumstances came in. I had a friend here before, a Serbian skier. I had to choose either stay home and not ski anymore or come here and ski. So, I choose the option for skiing.”
LaFarge was also hoping for the best.
“I was racing back home and wanted to be professional, but ended up getting injured on my knee a couple times,” said LaFarge. “And then I had a friend who was here and told me I should apply and try to come here.”
She did and the Battlin’ Bears are better for it.
A year ago this month, the Bears swept alpine national titles in Lake Placid, New York, home of Olympic hockey’s miracle on ice that stirred a American craze in 1980. But there’s nothing miracle about Rocky’s ski teams. They’ve again, won every regular season race and, by their count, 30 in a row on the men’s slope.
The Bears are a small NAIA school but in ski racing battle some of the NCAA’s big names. Syracuse, Duke, Uconn, Wisconsin, Washington State have been among them.
Jerry Wolf is the guy who’s put both Rocky teams on Mount Olympus. The Bears have reached nationals in every one of his 18 seasons. His men with seven championships, Rocky’s women with three, including the last two.
So what’s different this time around? Absolutely nothing. Both RMC teams have skied Jackson Hole and know what to expect.
“I think all the guys and girls are agreeing, we’re going to go for one more ring,” Reich-Pogladic said.
LaFarge agrees, but with a more sentimental outlook.
“I’m also sad because it’s the last time ever, and it’s been all I’ve known for the past few years.”