CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Nearly a full year after it was announced that Sugarloaf would be hosting the 2015 U.S. Alpine Championships, the event is finally ready to roll.

Some of the best American-born skiers from across the country descended on the Carrabassett Valley mountain Tuesday to get a feel for the slopes leading up to the five-day event, which begins today at 9 with the women’s super-G. 

With the sun shining and temperatures in the 40s, skiers were allowed to free ski Narrow Gauge — the trail on which the competition will take place — but they won’t get to see the course fully set up until inspection in the morning. For most of the athletes, U.S. soil was a sight to behold after spending the bulk of their season in Europe on the World Cup tour. 

“It’s great to be back in Maine,” Travis Ganong said. “I haven’t been here since the last time they were here. It’s amazing conditions. There’s so much snow. It’s still full-on winter here. It’s really nice to see that because we’ve been in Europe all winter where it’s been pretty warm and not a lot of snow, so it’s nice to be back here and have some nice conditions.” 

Ganong is a member of the Alpine A team and competes in both the super-G and downhill disciplines. He will only be skiing in the super-G event at Sugarloaf.

In his fifth year on the World Cup tour, Ganong placed 11th in the downhill and 27th in the super-G. He finished on the podium in the downhill during this year’s World Championships when he grabbed second at Beaver Creek. 


Ganong is one of seven members of the U.S. ski team that skied for Squaw Valley before making the jump to the next level. Following that same path is Bryce Bennett, a member of the Alpine B team. Like Ganong, Bennett competes in both the downhill and super-G at the World Cup level. 

This isn’t the first time Bennett’s seen Sugarloaf this year. In fact, this isn’t even the first time he’s seen it this month. Bennett participated in the FIS Nor-Am Cup speed finals on March 17, placing eighth. He beat out Carrabassett Valley native Sam Morse by .09 seconds.

Bennett said he was happy to be back, but was glad the weather had improved from his prior visit. He said winds north of 70 mph and the frigid cold made the conditions very difficult. Bennett was glad to be able to participate in the free ski with nothing more than jeans and a flannel jacket. 

For Bennett and many other skiers, this week is all about unwinding and having a good time. 

“End of the season race,” Bennett said. “It’s pretty fun racing against everyone. You don’t usually get the chance to do that all that often with everyone in the U.S. It’s fun to get together and have a good old party race.” 

“It’s the same guys we travel with all winter,” Ganong added. “You come back and see some of the younger kids you haven’t seen in a while, and it’s good to have the whole team back together.” 


It’s a short turnaround for many skiers competing at Sugarloaf this week. With the World Cup circuit wrapping up Sunday in France, some of nation’s best skiers have yet to arrive at the mountain. Others, who have been back in the states for a couple weeks, have had time to adjust to the time change. 

Paula Moltzan, a member of the Alpine B team, said she spent about 10 weeks overseas this season, but has been back for the past two weeks. 

“I didn’t really have it that bad because I was there for six weeks and then there was World Championships back here so it wasn’t that big of a deal this year,” Moltzan said. “But what I’ve heard from the other girls is it’s pretty tough being over in Europe for that long.” 

Skiing’s last major event of the season kicks off this morning with the women’s and men’s super-G, and continues throughout the week, leading up to Sunday’s men’s slalom to close things out.


Sun Journal coverage of the U.S. Alpine Championship includes:

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